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Wake Up! COVID Nursing Home Deaths are Elder NeglectThe statistics are frightening and staggering. In California, an estimated 35% of the 3,500 deaths from COVID-19 so far this year were residents and staff in nursing homes and eldercare facilities. Nationwide, the numbers are equally grim. The New York Times reports that one-third of all U.S. Coronavirus deaths are nursing home residents or workers. More than 15,000 have died so far in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.

Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, care homes in that country since the outbreak of COVID-19 are zero.

Take a moment to let that sink in.

Zero deaths from Coronavirus in Hong Kong? Correct.

While the Coronavirus wreaked havoc in nursing homes around the world, one country managed to contain the virus from the start. According to Professor Terry Lum, head of social care policy at Hong Kong University, at the first sign of infections in China, Hong Kong treated the outbreak like Sars. They tested people quickly and isolated the infected in hospitals for up to three months. At the same time, they isolated people who may have been in contact with infected people for 14 days of observation. Then they used “a supercomputer to trace the close contacts of people being infected.”

The fact that Hong Kong was able to contain the virus and keep it from infecting and killing thousands of nursing home residents and workers is proof positive that infection control procedures, when rigorously followed, work. The idea that the novel Coronavirus could not have been foreseen, and therefore could not have been prevented as a source of nursing home deaths, is a smokescreen. The nursing home industry wants people to believe that they did everything possible, but people died anyway.

It’s utter nonsense.

Read the statistics on nursing home deaths, and you’ll find that the facilities hardest hit were ones that consistently understaffed, didn’t follow infection control procedures, didn’t have protective gear on hand, and didn’t test or isolate. They were negligent in adhering to Federal standards of care before COVID-19.

Stated clearly, nursing home deaths from COVID-19 are cases of elder neglect. People did not have to die, and anyone who claims otherwise is trying to obscure the facts.

Nursing homes are supposed to have rigorous infection control procedures in place. The ones that did have gotten through this pandemic fine so far; the ones that didn’t are seeing residents and staff die.

Across the country, nursing home deaths are piling up, and families are waking up to the reality that loved ones are suffering neglect through the abject failure to implement infection control procedures. In Kansas, one senior facility, Brighton Gardens, operated and managed by Sunrise Senior Living Management, Inc., which runs 325 facilities throughout the U.S., had 76 positive cases and 14 deaths. The first of likely many lawsuits were filed earlier this week. In Portland, one family is suing a nursing home, now closed because of the Coronavirus, for $2.4 million while a second family is suing for $1.8 million. Meanwhile, the nursing home industry is lobbying hard to receive protection from lawsuits.

Here is the question of the day:  Would providing an immunity (no accountability) give any incentive to nursing homes to clean up their act or provide better care?

Nobody, or more aptly, no corporation, should be above the law. Immunities are wrong and do an injustice to those who deserve dignity and respect – our senior citizens.

Attorney Wendy York of York Law Firm specializes in prosecuting elder abuse and wrongful death cases. For further information, please call us at 1-800-939-1832