The Concern for Nursing Home, Assisted Living Residents During Coronavirus (Covid-10) Outbreak

People everywhere are concerned about the spread of a new novel respiratory disease spreading across the United States and the world known as the Coronavirus (Covid-19). According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of confirmed cases is over 179,000 worldwide, with 7,426 deaths as of mid-March 2020. This number is expected to continue to grow, putting those considered among vulnerable populations most at-risk.

Among those considered at particular risk from the Coronavirus are seniors and nursing home residents, with current estimates of a death rate of at least 15%, and possibly even higher, for those among this population. Because of the risk that those over 60, and particularly those over the age of 80 with underlying conditions face, federal officials have halted all nursing home visits (except for certain compassionate care situations such as end-of-life events) and ordered nursing homes and assisted living facilities to cancel all group activities, tours, communal dining, and access by all non-essential healthcare personnel such as barbers and volunteers.

On Saturday, Governor J.B. Pritzker announced the first case of the Coronavirus in Illinois, a woman in her 60’s who is a resident of Chateau Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Willowbrook. She remains hospitalized and is in stable condition. Because she had not traveled, officials believe the infection was due to community spread, however the source of the infection has not yet been identified.

By Tuesday, Illinois had 160 confirmed cases in 15 counties, up from 105 announced Monday, with 22 of these cases at the 150-bed Willowbrook nursing home where the first confirmed case is a resident. Of these 22 cases, 18 of the affected are residents of the nursing home and four are staff members. Statistics show that each of the 22 affected will come into contact with, on average, 90 people, all of whom will be tracked down where it will be recommended that they place themselves into self-quarantine and receive prompt medical treatment if they begin to develop symptoms.

There has currently been one death from this virus, a 61-year old woman, who was not a nursing home resident, that suffered with underlying medical conditions.

As with other respiratory diseases like SARS, influenza, and the Swine Flu, the Coronavirus is more likely to cause serious harm to the senior citizen community, especially among those with cardiovascular disease, cancer, hypertension, chronic respiratory disease, and diabetes.

Because of the fragile nature of nursing home patients and assisted living residents, it is extremely important that these care facilities have plans in place for infection prevention, infection control, and emergency preparedness plans to address an outbreak should one occur. These include the following recommendations by the CDC:

CDC Preparedness Checklist for Nursing Homes

  • Rapid identification and management of ill residents
  • Considerations for visitors and consultant staff
  • Supplies and resources
  • Sick leave policies and other occupational health considerations
  • Education and training
  • Surge capacity for staffing, equipment and supplies, and postmortem care

CDC Guidance for Infection Prevention and Control

  • Restrict 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

CDC Recommendations for Disease Prevention Supplies

  • Put alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60–95% alcohol in every resident room (ideally both inside and outside of the room) and other resident care and common areas (e.g., outside dining hall, in therapy gym)
  • Make sure that sinks are well-stocked with soap and paper towels for handwashing
  • Make tissues and facemasks available for coughing people
  • Consider designating staff to steward those supplies and encourage appropriate use by residents, visitors, and staff
  • Make necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) available in areas where resident care is provided. Put a trash can near the exit inside the resident room to make it easy for staff to discard PPE prior to exiting the room, or before providing care for another resident in the same room
  • Facilities should have supplies of facemasks, respirators, gowns, gloves, eye protection
  • Make sure that EPA-registered, hospital-grade disinfectants are available to allow for frequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces and shared resident care equipment

CDC Recommendations for Evaluating and Treating Health Care Providers (HCP) with Symptoms

  • Implement sick leave policies that allow ill HCP to stay home
  • Screen all HCP prior to their shifts for evidence of a fever or respiratory symptoms by actively taking their temperature and document shortness of breath, coughing, or a sore throat.
  • If an HCP is ill, they should be required to put on a face mask and asked to leave
  • Non-essential personnel should be restricted from entering the building

CDC Recommendations for Evaluating and Managing Residents with Symptoms

  • Ask residents to report fever or respiratory symptoms
  • Actively monitor all residents daily and if positive for symptoms, implement 14-day quarantine ideally in a single room or a shared room with another symptomatic resident
  • If a resident requires more extensive care than a facility can provide, the resident should be transferred to a facility that can more effectively accommodate them

Nursing homes and long-term care facilities are required to protect the health and safety of their residents, staff members, and visitors, even with the constantly changing nature of the Coronavirus. If a facility did not have the proper plans in place to prevent infections or they did not have a plan for addressing infectious diseases, they may be liable for the injuries or wrongful death that occurred due to their negligence.

If you or a loved one has been infected by the Coronavirus at a nursing home or long-term care facility, the experienced personal injury lawyers at Agruss Law Firm, LLC can review your case and determine who may be liable for your damages.

Helping our clients is about counseling, advocating, and ultimately solving problems. With years of experience successfully representing the people, not the powerful, we will take care of the insurance adjusters, your medical bills, your property damage, and your lost wages, and monitor your treatment so you can focus on healing and getting your life back to normal. Our unique formula has earned us over 1,000 outstanding client reviews on our website, an A+ BBB rating, and over 145 five-star reviews on Google. Call 888-572-0176, e-mail us at [email protected], or schedule a meeting with us here. We’re here 24/7.

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