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California Nursing Homes Plagued by COVID 19

As the novel coronavirus (COVID 19) pandemic continues – shown to be particularly hard on older people and people of all ages with serious underlying conditions – California nursing homes have faced skyrocketing numbers of patients and staff infected by the virus. The California Department of Public Health has released a list of names of 255 nursing homes across the State of California that have experienced outbreaks – highlighting the need for swift, thorough, and extensive action to keep these numbers from climbing even higher.

The list reveals that the following data regarding outbreaks at nursing homes in Southern California:

  • 11 facilities in San Diego County
  • 12 facilities in Orange County
  • 14 facilities in San Bernardino County
  • 19 facilities in Riverside County
  • 148 facilities in Los Angeles County

In total, 255 nursing homes across the State of California have reported over 1290 staff members testing positive, and over 1740 patients testing positive for COVID 19. These numbers are considered to be much lower than the reality on the ground, as not all facilities have reported actual numbers, and some facilities have not reported at all.

The numbers are staggering. For example, at Brier Oak on Sunset, a Los Angeles facility specializing in short stay rehab and long term care, had 62 staff members and 80 patients who tested positive for the virus. Redwood Springs Healthcare Center has the worst COVID-19 outbreak among these facilities, with 46 staff infected and 91 patients – this number expected to rise as other reports from the county indicate over 100 residents infected here.

As ground zero for coronavirus outbreaks, it is of utmost importance that nursing and assisted living (also known as long-term care) facilities who care for patients within this population are vigilant in preventing and protecting against the spread.

What should nursing homes and long-term facilities do to prevent and contain the spread of the virus among their patients and staff?

Infection is always a threat to nursing homes that should be prevented and protected against. However, However, due to the level of contagion, severity of effects, and the vulnerability of nursing home patients, COVID 19 requires nursing homes to ramp up these prevention and protection policies. This should start by staying up-to-date with and following all local, state, and federal administrative guidelines to prevent and contain the spread of COVID 19.

The CDC recommended nursing facilities take the following proactive steps, including but not limited to:

  • Restricting all visitation except for certain compassionate care situations, such as end of life situations
  • Restrict all volunteers and non-essential healthcare personnel (HCP), including non-essential healthcare personnel (e.g., barbers)
  • Cancel all group activities and communal dining
  • Implement active screening of residents and HCP for fever and respiratory symptoms
  • Educating and training HCP, consultant personnel, residents, and their families about COVID-19, infection prevention and actions they can take to protect themselves and their communities
  • Providing hand hygiene supplies to residents and staff, and personal protective equipment (PPE) to staff
  • Vigorous environmental cleaning and disinfection
  • Utilizing the “Preparedness Checklist for Nursing Homes and other Long-Term Care Settings” to develop a comprehensive COVID-19 response plan

Due to the evolving nature of the data, science and knowledge about this virus, continuing to stay informed of CMS, CDC and other public health guidelines is critical to the safe administration of nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Accordingly, these facilities should be constantly checking to make sure they are in compliance with the most updated standard of care recommendations.

If I have or my loved one has been impacted by a nursing or long-term care facility‘s failure to take proper precautions against COVID 19, what should I do?

Unfortunately, many of the most common problems seen in these facilities all the time – understaffing, staffing turnover, inadequate training and supplies – pose an even greater threat to residents in the wake of COVID 19, as they become agents of the infection. When a nursing home negligently fails to implement appropriate policies, procedures, training and other measures to prevent the spread of COVID 19, it can result in serious illness and even death for patients, staff, and visitors.

If you or a loved one in one of these facilities has not been properly cared for or has passed away due to COVID 19, you are encouraged to contact an attorney who has specific experience in nursing home abuse and neglect and file a claim.

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