The Governor of New Mexico announced earlier this week that the state is partnering with a company called Genesis Healthcare, a for-profit chain that the U.S. Department of Justice called an “unscrupulous provider” with a record of “grossly substandard nursing care.”
This situation is devastating news for New Mexico’s nursing home residents. Consider what the Governor is saying. A Nursing Home with COVID-19 patients is to be run by a company with a history of safety violations and lawsuits. It will not surprise us if the company hires lobbyists to ask for immunities to shield them from future safety violations.
Charlene Harrington, a Professor of Sociology and Nursing at the University of California, San Francisco for 40 years, had this comment: “It’s a disaster. They’re going to get away with bloody murder because they’re going to get top dollar for these patients and with no oversight.”
It’s not just patients who are dying in nursing homes; it’s the nursing homes themselves, brought down by their own greed and mismanagement. Such facilities are plagued by poor operations, failure to follow strict protocols, failure to adhere to standards, and failure to maintain clean and healthy environments for patients and staff.
According to a report from WABC-7 in New York, health inspectors cited 75% of nursing homes nationwide for failing to prevent the spread of infectious diseases between 2016 and January 2020. In New York, more than 6 out of 10 received citations; in New Jersey, it was 7 out of 10, and in California, it was 9 out of 10! That’s right. 90.3% of the 1,194 nursing homes in our state had at least one infection deficiency during those four years. It’s a state-wide and national disgrace.
Is it any surprise that a disproportionate number of coronavirus cases and deaths are occurring at Skilled Nursing Facilities?!
Each year, the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services give billions of dollars to nursing home operators who turn around and pocket those vast amounts of money instead of using it to provide safe and habitable living facilities for America’s elderly. When an infectious disease like the coronavirus breaks out, these same operators claim that they ‘didn’t see it coming’ or ‘need help to deal with an unprecedented outbreak.’
Don’t be fooled by such nonsense! Yours and my Federal dollars already provide ample funding for nursing homes to fight infectious diseases. The reason so many patients are getting infected and are dying in nursing homes is that such facilities fail to follow guidelines. Viral infections should be an ongoing concern at every facility, for which they already have strict protocols.
The nursing home industry should be ashamed because this disaster did not need to happen. At this point, chain operators don’t need more funding; they need to be held accountable.
Should you have any loved ones in facilities in New Mexico, please be sure to check on them. Now, more than ever, they need your attention and support.
Attorney Wendy York of York Law Firm specializes in prosecuting elder abuse and wrongful death cases. For further information, please call us at 800-939-1832