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The Dangers of Coronavirus in Nursing Homes

Coronavirus Panic in Nursing Homes

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is having a devastating effect on millions of people across the globe.

In Ohio, bars and restaurants have shut down. Movie theaters and bowling alleys lie empty. Hundreds have self-quarantined and there seems to be no clear end in sight.

Amongst those most affected, though, are the 1.5 million people living in nursing homes throughout the United States.

Nursing Homes in Ohio

According to U.S. News and World Report, there are 961 nursing homes in Ohio.

As nursing homes typically house dozens of residents above the age of 60, they are amongst the most at-risk for contracting many diseases and infections. In this case, although the novel coronavirus can infect anyone, it’s older adults who are more likely to suffer serious consequences from the disease.

On top of the increased risk factors based on age, over 75% of nursing homes in the U.S. have been cited for failing to properly monitor and control infections in the last three years, according to USA Today.

Although many nursing homes are trained on what to do should a serious infection or pandemic occur, those operation activities are not always closely followed.

If infection control is failing at more than half of all nursing homes in the country, that can lead to serious problems amidst a pandemic like the novel coronavirus. Charlene Harrington, a professor of nursing at the University of California, states that “Failed infection control means nursing homes can spread the new coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, far beyond their walls”. She also stresses the fact that what happens in nursing homes can affect more people than we realize, stating “Poor care in one nursing home becomes an epicenter for the entire community.”

Coronavirus Risks for Older Adults

As adults age, the immune system weakens causing heightened risk factors for many diseases and infections, including the novel coronavirus.

Infectious disease experts define “older adults” as anyone age 60 and up and provides specific warnings to those in that age group.

Individuals over the age of 80 need to exercise even more caution, according to a report published in JAMA, a medical journal. In the report, researchers examined more than 72,000 coronavirus patients in China and found that the fatality rate was over 15% for those over the age of 80, an increase of 13% for the rest of the population.

Older adults have been encouraged to self-isolate and eliminate any non-essential travel and activities that could put them at further risk for contracting the virus.

coronavirus nursing homesCoronavirus in Nursing Homes FAQ’s

If you have a friend or loved one in a nursing home, it can be confusing and stressful to know how to react to the coronavirus pandemic.

Some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) are:

What do I do if I’m worried about my loved one and the precautions their nursing home is taking for the coronavirus?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does provide training for nursing homes and long-term care facilities on how to best operate during a pandemic. However, if you’re concerned about the specific protocols a nursing home is taking for your loved one, don’t hesitate to contact the staff or nursing manager of their specific residence. They should be able to give you a detailed plan on how they’re preventing the contraction and/or possible spread of the virus.

Are nursing homes screening staff members for the coronavirus? What about visitors?

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidelines designed to keep America’s nursing home residents safe amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

The newest measures, as of March 13, 2020, include:

  • Restricting all visitors, effective immediately, with exceptions for compassionate care, such as end-of-life situations;
  • Restricting all volunteers and nonessential health care personnel and other personnel (i.e. barbers);
  • Canceling all group activities and communal dining; and
  • Implementing active screening of residents and health care personnel for fever and respiratory symptoms.
Seema Verma, CMS Administrator, explained that although halting visitors is a difficult decision, it’s necessary for the protection of their residents. “Temporarily restricting visitors and nonessential workers will help reduce the risk of Coronavirus spread in nursing homes, keeping residents safe.”
How can I remain in contact with my loved one at a nursing home or assisted living facility?
Due to restrictions set in place by the CMS, it’s important to set up an alternative mode of communication between residents and families.
Frequent phone calls, video calls, or letters can encourage residents and remind them that they have not been forgotten about by friends and family.

Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyers

Amidst a crisis, it can be stressful and confusing for nursing home residents, nursing home staff, and all families involved. If a loved one has sustained a serious infectious disease or complication resulting from neglect or abuse at a nursing home, it’s important to reach out to an Ohio nursing home abuse lawyer immediately. Fill out a contact form online or call 216-285-9991 to speak to an experienced attorney about your specific situation.
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In order to stop the spread of COVID-19, the staff at Tittle & Perlmuter is working remotely, instead of from our offices throughout Northeast Ohio. The good news is that our law firm is fully functional from a remote basis. If you would like to schedule a video consultation with one of our attorneys, please call us at 216-285-9991.