About 25% of all nursing homes in Wisconsin were exposed to the coronavirus outbreak, based on federal data released in June of 2020.
Wisconsin’s nursing home deaths may be greatly underreported
A highlight in the data was the alarming revelation that one particular home in Milwaukee reported 57 deaths within the first few months of the pandemic. Critics also pointed out that the federal government may be underestimating the sheer magnitude of the outbreak and related problems in nursing homes around the country. Despite the most recent statistics published about nursing homes, there is still a lot of information missing that would give Americans a complete picture of how the virus is affecting the most vulnerable members of our society.
A local news outlet attempted to contact the facility where the 57 deaths happened. They would routinely experience people answering the phone and then quickly hanging up before speaking with them. This one home reported at least four times as many fatalities as any other facility in the entire state of Wisconsin.
The federal reporting requirements for nursing homes started on May 8th around the country, which is when the data starts in most cases. This is concerning to many, as the first two months of the pandemic are essentially missing from any related stats. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services have even publicly acknowledged that the data has limitations. As of the time of publication, the agency admitted that it can only ask the homes to provide additional data, but there is no way of enforcing any kind of punishments or sanctions against those who do not. There are comparison tools provided by the agency as well, but facilities that reported the entire data set versus those who have only reported since May 8th are all lumped together, making it impossible to know which facilities have handled the outbreak better than others. The head of the agency said that they have rushed to roll out a database of information in a couple of months, when a similar process would normally take at least a year if not for the pandemic.
There are 359 nursing homes throughout Wisconsin. About 29 had reported at least one death at the time of publication and approximately 100 had at least one resident or staff member test positive. One facility, called Allis Care Center, had eight people die in under three weeks. Because this was before the May 8th reporting requirement, no deaths were reported to the government. There are suspicions that this underreporting is happening throughout the state and the country.
Talk to a nursing home abuse attorney in Wisconsin
There are local lawyers who focus their practice on bringing civil cases against nursing homes for instances of abuse and neglect. To learn more, find a lawyer through the directory on USAttorneys.com.