The news coming out of the nursing home industry is not good.
At this point, our nursing home injury lawyers in Fort Myers and Cape Coral suspect the risks are well known when it comes to COVID infections in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Elderly populations and those with pre-existing conditions already face the highest risk of adverse outcomes.
But to understand the full scope of the risk, and place blame where it belongs, it is important to separate the universal COVID risks faced by the elderly, from the unnecessary risks faced by residents as a result of negligence and ineptness.
There is no better word than obstinance to describe the industry’s response, as large nursing home chains and assisted-living facilities continue to put patients at high risk in order to maximize profits and minimize operational inconvenience.
Obstinance – resolute adherence to your own ideas or desires.
We need look no further than compliance with the hurricane readiness mandates put in place after Hurricane Irma in 2017, which resulted in more than a dozen residents dying in sweltering conditions in Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood nursing homes. A new law was passed that required all nursing homes to have emergency power. However, the state has since declined to enforce the rule, issuing waivers and variances to dozens of homes that have called it a hardship.
The variances allow homes to group residents into small common areas to keep them cool and dry during a power outage, even as COVID has claimed more than 600 lives in Florida nursing homes since the pandemic began.
Florida Nursing Homes: Profits over Care
The situation has grown so dire that a score of Florida news outlets continue to investigate.
- Florida’s lax oversight of nursing homes spills over from one deadly crisis to the next, reports the Miami Herald.
- The Fort Myers News-Press and Sarasota Herald-Tribune conducted a joint investigation that found the state’s effort to test all nursing home residents has been marred by communications and logistical shortfalls. Mary Mayhew, secretary for the Agency for Health Care Administration, which is charged with overseeing Florida nursing homes, said way back on March 16 that “timely testing for our elderly and medically frail is mission critical.” Yet three months into the pandemic, the vast majority of residents have not been tested.
- Many nursing homes have yet to properly supply staff with masks and gowns, the Miami Herald reported.
- In the last two months, the death toll at nursing homes and assisted-living facilities increased nearly 600 percent, claiming more than a thousand lives and accounting for more than half of the states COVID deaths, the Palm Beach Post reported.
- The Insurance Journal reports nursing home operators in Florida continue to push lawmakers to pass measures shielding them from immunity for COVID infections and deaths. The Palm Beach Post is among the media outlets to publish editorials urging lawmakers not to forsake elderly residents but unfortunately lawmakers have typically sided with the industry.
Holding Nursing Homes Accountable in Southwest Florida
In the courtroom, nursing homes will be held accountable for their actions and inactions, not for the inescapable nature of the outbreak and inherent risks faced by everyone. The industry is well aware of this fact and yet continues to focus on winning immunity from liability rather than tending to the elderly residents in its care, for which the industry is paid hundreds of millions of dollars in annual profits.
An experienced nursing home injury attorney can best guide you through the process of determining liability in the wake of a nursing home death. Early consultation with an experienced law firm will offer you the best chance of winning justice and holding the operator accountable to the residents in its care.
If you or a loved one is injured, call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.