The Hanahan nursing home where Aaron Lorick worked was putting staff and residents in danger. Missteps let the virus prey on the frailest people in their care. Lorick witnessed the dawn of one of South Carolina’s largest and deadliest nursing home outbreaks, one that ultimately would cost at least 15 residents at the Heartland Health and Rehabilitation Care Center their lives and reveal deeper problems within an industry catering to the state’s most vulnerable residents. While recovering from COVID-19 himself, he felt he needed to speak out. He claims that supervisors forced staff members to reuse one mask for weeks. Since many residents at that facility were immobile, it was the workers who were spreading the virus by treating both infected and well patients.
The Centers for Disease Control issued several recommendations for how nursing homes should handle COVID-19 preparedness. Every nursing home should have on staff at least one person whose job it is to manage COVID-19 preparation.
- Mandatory use of face masks for staff; mandatory face masks to be used by residents when they leave their rooms.
- Visitation procedures that encourage video conferencing and phone calls, and protocols to prevent visitors from bringing the infection into the facility.
- Nursing home staff should ask visitors to let the nursing home know if they develop symptoms of COVID-19 within 14 days of visiting the nursing home.
- Have a testing plan in place for COVID-19.
- Have a generous sick leave policy for nursing home staff and encourage staff to stay home if they are not feeling well.
- Develop a plan for what to do if there is a shortfall of staff due to illness.
- Make sure nursing home has proper PPE, hand sanitation, and equipment to handle illness and prevent infection.
- Have a plan in place for where to house residents who become sick with COVID-19 and a plan in place for caring for residents who get sick with the coronavirus.
- Have a plan in place regarding how family will be informed about outbreaks and illness among loved ones.
- Nursing home should have a place where COVID-19 patients can be treated, and a plan in place for referring sick patients for more intensive care when needed.
The Nursing Home Reform Act under Title IV of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 outlines residential rights to protect the approximately 1.3 million Americans living in nursing homes and long-term care facilities from nursing home abuse. An experienced nursing home attorney can help if resident rights are violated.
A nursing home facility can be held liable for any personal injury or neglect that causes harm, exacerbates health conditions, or results in an untimely death of a resident. Legal action may be taken against a nursing home based on acts of negligence that cause, or exacerbate existing health conditions, or place residents in danger.
Standard of care.
In accordance with South Carolina Nursing Home Laws (S.C. Code Section 44-7-260), “An infection isolation room shall be made available if ordered by the attending physician for a resident who has a communicable disease that poses a threat to the health or safety of other residents, When sub-standard care results in harm to a resident, or outright abuse occurs, call an experienced attorney at the McDougall Law Offices, to discuss a potential nursing home abuse lawsuit if you, or a loved one suffered injury, or death caused by unsafe nursing home practices, inadequate precautions and sustained exposure to other sick long-term care residents.
McDougall Law Firm, LLC