Nursing Home Abuse & COVID-19: Know the Signs

Posted by Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC on May 20, 2020

In a May 15 article by the Tennessean, a third of all coronavirus deaths in the state are of those who had been living in nursing home facilities. According to the report, of those deaths, five facilities account for the deaths. They include:

  • Gallatin Center for Rehabilitation and Healing – 163 cases; 23 deaths
  • Life Care Center of Athens – 115 cases; 11 deaths
  • The Highland of Memphis Health and Rehabilitation Center – 85 cases; four deaths
  • Boulevard Terrace Health and Rehabilitation in Murfreesboro – 70 cases; nine deaths
  • Signature HealthCARE of Putnam County in Cookeville – 51 cases; five deaths

With this many deaths taking place, it has many families in Tennessee wondering what is happening inside of those facilities and what can be done to protect their loved ones. While the state has yet to point fingers of widespread nursing home neglect for inadequate COVID-19 preparedness in these living facilities, it is only a matter of time.

If you suspect neglect in your loved one’s nursing home facility or have concerns about the precautions being taken, contact Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard today.

COVID-19 Nursing Home Neglect

When many of us think of nursing home abuse, we think of physical abuse and neglect in the form of bedsores, malnourishment, isolation, and fear. However, in this new normal, neglect even has changed how it looks.

Because families are unable to visit facilities to check in on their loved ones, outsiders are left to the mercy of nursing home staff to report on their family members’ status. But with so much happening so quickly, these check-ins may be infrequent or not happening at all.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has since released guidelines for nursing home facilities that take patients under Medicare and Medicaid to follow for coronavirus compliance. Such guidelines include:

  • Nursing homes must comply with all CMS and CDC guidance related to infection control. This includes proper hand hygiene, infection control, and self-assessment. In addition, this includes the proper use of personal protective equipment.
  • Medicare is now covering COVID-19 testing when furnished to eligible beneficiaries by certified laboratories. These laboratories may also choose to enter facilities to conduct COVID-19 testing.
  • Long-term care facilities should immediately implement symptom screening for all residents. Those who enter the facility will also be tested.
  • Personal protectivei equipment and masks must be worn when interacting with patients and residents.
  • To limit the spread, facilities should use separate staffing teams for COVID-19-positive residents to the best of their ability.

While following the guidelines established is just part of the COVID-19 preparedness, facilities need not neglect the needs of patients who are not COVID-19 positive. Failure to supply proper treatment and care as a result of inadequate staffing and support is not an excuse for neglect.

Contact Our Nashville Attorneys Today

The world is full of uncertainty right now. And not being able to see your loved ones in the care of a nursing home facility only adds to that stress. However, when you believe that abuse and neglect may be occurring, you cannot let it go on.

The Nashville nursing home abuse attorneys at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard are skilled in understanding the legal needs of our clients and taking steps to minimize uncertainty with regard to medical and probate decisions. For more information on how we can help you navigate this new normal, contact us today.

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