After the recent outbreak of COVID-19 at a Washington State nursing home where 26 of the center’s residents have died and 13 were confirmed to have COVID-19, Alabama resident facilities along with others across the nation have implemented protective protocols in accordance with federal guidelines. The changes include restrictive visitor policies allowing only visits that are medically necessary, or related to hospice and increased testing measures for employees and professionals that come into contact with nursing home residents. Nursing homes have standard operating policies that address the safety of residents when one becomes sick with a contagious illness within the close quarters of a nursing home environment. One employee and one resident of two different nursing homes in Jefferson County have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Alabama Nursing Home Association. Measures must be undertaken to provide for the safety of residents, including adherence to protocols that limit exposure to the virus.
Families can be distraught when they have to decide to admit parents or loved ones to nursing homes, but many do it because they do not believe they have the resources to keep them safe, or provide adequate care in a home environment. Medicare and Medicaid are two big provider payors for elder care that provide a resourceful website where comparisons of nursing homes nationally, and within the state can be undertaken. There are times when Alabama nursing home residents will be exposed to situations and illnesses, through no fault of their own and nursing home staff must provide care, while limiting any risks of contagions.
If a resident becomes severely ill and in danger of death after contracting an illness because the staff did not practice proper hygiene, or they knowingly increased the level of sustained contact with sick individuals, they may be found to be negligent and the resident and/or family may sue for damages related to any negative outcomes.
The Nursing Home Reform Act under Title IV of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987, ensures that residents maintain and receive adequate nutrition, personal hygiene, mental and emotional support, and social involvement while being kept from harm. In Alabama, there are alternatives to Nursing Home placement and care for eligible participants, even those with serious medical conditions, through the Alabama Medicaid Waiver Program located at Alabama Medicaid. Remember unintentional neglect is a form of abuse, and you may notice indications when you interview each facility.
Nursing home abuse.
Nursing home abuse covers a variety of infractions, including acts of negligence that may cause, or exacerbate existing health conditions placing residents in danger of prolonged illness and death and a personal injury attorney may be able to help. Violation of any of the resident’s rights may be considered abuse and a nursing home may be liable for negligence in care for which compensation may be awarded to a resident or their family.
Residents and/or families can sue for monetary compensation for an injury resulting from abuse, neglect, or intentional abuse. Aside from those actions, state and federal agencies may impose fines and other restrictions on the care center.
Call an attorney.
If you have witnessed signs of nursing home negligence during visitations, contact an attorney who is familiar with nursing home negligence and the legal actions against it, specifically as it relates to the spread of infectious diseases that could cause grave sickness in elder patients.