Nursing home residents accounted for 27% of the COVID-19 deaths in South Carolina through the end of July, even though they make up less than 0.5% of the state’s population. COVID-19 keeps making its way into nursing homes even after they were sealed off to visitors in mid-March. That lockdown should have made those facilities the safest places for the frail elderly, but COVID-19 death is more prevalent among the elderly, based on mechanisms of spread for being favorable when respiratory droplets are passed on through contact in close quarters. South Carolina does not require nursing homes to test residents, or employees, even if they are in contact with infected people almost three months after the Department of Health agreed to identify the nursing homes where residents, or employees tested positive, or died from COVID-19.
If someone died at a long term care facility because they were not isolated from sick individuals, some degree of responsibility may fall onto the health care providers. Seeking consultation with an experienced attorney about the case is advised and reporting the facility is important to reduce dangers to residents.
A resident or their family can register complaints of nursing home abuse, or neglect that results in injury, or wrongful death of a resident. A could assist in this process. Residents in nursing homes have rights under The Nursing Home Reform Act under Title IV of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987, and families and loved ones need to make certain those rights are not being violated during this time of uncertainty.
Standards of care.
South Carolina nursing home facilities are required to take action to isolate sick residents to control disease spread in accordance with South Carolina Nursing Home Laws (S.C. Code Section 44-7-260). Isolations rooms shall be made available to protect residents from an individual’s illness that may pose a threat to the safety of other residents and if the facility is unable to provide isolation or measures to provide for the health and safety of all residents, individuals should be relocated to a facility that can.
Nursing home abuse covers acts of negligence that cause, or exacerbate existing health conditions or place residents in danger so it is imperative that infection control practices are adhered to, including:
- Mandatory use of face masks for staff; mandatory face masks to be used by residents when they leave their rooms.
- Reduced visitation procedures that encourage video conferencing and phone calls, and protocols to prevent visitors from bringing the infection into the facility, including closed window visits.
- Nursing home staff inquiries regarding symptoms of COVID-19 after visiting nursing home.
- Enhanced cleaning and testing for all residents and staff.
Hire legal counsel.
If a resident, or loved one identifies sub-standard care that results in harm, or death to a nursing home resident, call an experienced attorney at the McDougall Law Offices, to discuss a potential case for damages.
McDougall Law Firm, LLC