The Washington Post last week reported that a nursing home in Kirkland, Washington was cited for multiple violations including failing to report an outbreak of COVID-19, for giving inadequate care to its residents during the outbreak, and for failing to provide 24-hour emergency physician services. Inspectors are giving the facility until September to correct the deficiencies or face a fine of more than $611,000, as well as a loss of Medicare and Medicaid funding.
During this COVID-19 outbreak, some people mistakenly believe that skilled nursing facilities, rehabilitation facilities, hospitals and other institutions that care for the elderly are somehow given a free pass. Such is not the case.
Skilled nursing facilities are always required by law to have protocols in place to minimize infectious disease outbreaks because their residents are the most vulnerablein our population. In fact, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services published a detailed protocol in 2009 which gives facilities precise information on what is expected of them, not just during a crisis but at all times. Those guidelines are in place to prevent infections and the spread of infections, always. Facilities that adhere to the standards should be coping fine during this outbreak.
Skilled nursing facilities that claim they weren’t prepared to face a virus such as COVID-19 are not being truthful because, by law, they should have been. The CMS Infection Control Program was put in place to address situations exactly like the one we’re facing.
What we’re seeing with skilled nursing facilities is yet another example of mismanagementand understaffing to juice profits at the expense of their residents. Understaffing at skilled nursing facilities is a serious problem under any circumstances but is completely unacceptable during the current public health epidemic.
If your loved one is in a facility that is currently being understaffed or not following proper infection control practices, I encourage you to file a complaint with the California Department of Public Health.
Don’t acceptthat a COVID-19 virus was never anticipated as an excuse for providing poor care. Elder facilities are licensed and regulated for such times as we currently face. Again, there is no excuse for understaffing and sub-standard infection control practices for our most vulnerable senior citizens. Failure to staff appropriately and failure to have adequate infection control practices at all times can be fatal to our elders, can amount to elder abuse and neglect and should be reported to the California Department of Public Health and the California Attorney General’s Office.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact our law offices and we’ll be glad to direct you to the appropriate resources.
Attorney Wendy York of York Law Firm specializes in prosecuting elder abuse and wrongful death cases. For further information, please visit us at www.yorklawcorp.com.