More testing and more protections to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are needed to protect nursing home residents. Patients in these facilities are at an increased risk of illness or death from COVID-19. Data from Medicare shows that for the past three years, more than 80 percent of Nevada nursing homes have failed to meet federal standards for infection prevention and control. When these healthcare providers fail to protect their residents by not taking precautions to protect them from COVID-19, they could be held liable for nursing home abuse.
COVID-19 is Dangerous for the Elderly
The elderly, especially those with pre-existing health issues are at the highest risk for contracting COVID-19. As of the end of April, 661 people living in long-term care facilities had tested positive for the virus and 50 had died. Because the virus is extremely contagious, it can quickly spread through a nursing home when proper precautions are not taken. As these facilities have been closed to visitors, loved ones are unable to check that their elderly family members are being properly cared for or protected from exposure to the virus.
How are Nursing Home Residents Being Exposed?
Being nursing home residents are not leaving their facilities and visitors are not allowed in, the most likely source of infection is coming from healthcare workers and new patients. In facilities throughout the country, staff members who have shown signs of COVID-19 continued to work and put patients at risk. But what is also alarming is that nursing homes have taken in patients that are sick with the virus.
Lack of Personnel Protection Equipment
Nursing homes in Las Vegas and throughout Nevada were caught unprepared without enough personal protective equipment. This put both residents and staff at risk for contracting and spreading COVID-19. Toward the end of April, the Nevada National Guard distributed almost a million pieces of PPE to 22 nursing homes in Southern Nevada, including gloves and masks.
Lack of Testing for Staff and Patients
Both staff and patients should be tested immediately when they show signs of COVID-19. However, because the virus can be spread by those who are asymptomatic, staff members should be tested because they could unknowingly spread the virus without showing signs of sickness. Those who test positive should not come to work until they have tested negative, and they certainly should not be around patients. Residents who show possible signs of the virus or who test positive for it should be segregated from healthy patients.