Articles Posted in Nursing Home Issues

COVID-19 continues to cause medical, financial, and psychological stress on people throughout the United States. In addition to the general fear surrounding the virus, many people, including those residing in Maine nursing homes, face the pandemic’s continued threat. These vulnerable individuals are at risk for serious medical consequences if they contract the coronavirus. Although most nursing homes and assisted living facilities understand the heightened need for health and safety measures, these facilities continue to see a rise in cases and deaths.

Maine nursing homes whose staff do not possess the training, skills, and access to personal protective equipment (PPE) to safely care for the facility’s residents, can cause a widespread outbreak. Inadequate and defective equipment can have disastrous effects on staff, residents, and visitors. Although, the government provides a broad range of immunity to these facilities for lawsuits related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Maine nursing home neglect and abuse victims must understand their rights and remedies.

For example, a national news source recently reported a troubling situation where the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sent inadequate PPE to nursing homes facing the COVID-19 pandemic. These facilities were benefactors of a widespread effort to provide medical professionals with PPE. However, several nursing homes and assisted living facilities reported that the shipments they received included questionable products. The facilities complained that the boxes included unmarked zip-top bags with loose gloves, defective surgical masks, and protective gowns without arm openings. FEMA claimed that although the equipment met regulatory guidelines, they would be contacting the private contractor to issue replacements.

According to a recent news report, the Maine Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported a spike of 71 cases of COVID-19 in the state. Approximately 57 of these new cases stem from an outbreak at a long-term care home in Cape Elizabeth. The facility primarily provides care and treatment to individuals who have Alzheimer’s and dementia. The director of the Maine CDC reported that the agency is working with the long-term care facility to address staffing concerns, infection control, and the cause of the outbreak. Moreover, the CDC provided the facility with additional personal protective gear and sanitizing materials.

The facility’s representative stated that they have complied with CDC guidance for over two months. The guidance includes control measures, visitor restrictions, and patient screening and healthcare worker screenings. They facility states that the first staff member to test positive passed a health screen just before her last shift. They are unsure whether the healthcare worker contracted the virus at the facility or introduced it into the center. One of the facility managers reported that on a Tuesday, no one at the facility exhibited symptoms, but by Thursday, half of the residents tested positive and were symptomatic. The majority of the positive staff were asymptomatic. Family members, many of whom are wishing to remain anonymous, are expressing concerns for their family members because they cannot accurately gauge how their family members are doing because of visitor restrictions.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the facility does not have a history of violations. However, it is clear that long-term care facilities and other Maine nursing homes should be engaging in additional measures to protect their residents, staff, and visitors. Even a slight deviation from the CDC’s guidelines can have a disastrous impact on residents’ lives and safety.

As the days go on, people across the United States have become increasingly concerned about the spread of COVID-19, commonly known as the coronavirus. The disease is thought to have originated in China and has quickly spread throughout the world. Maine’s Center for Disease Control Director has noted that there are about 30 confirmed cases and 12 presumed positive cases in the state. Although, in the majority of cases, the disease poses a relatively low risk of death, that is not the case for older adults. This is illustrated by how quickly the disease ravaged nursing home residents in Seattle. In some cases, it may be difficult to pinpoint precisely how transmission occurred, but in others, the negligence of a nursing home or their staff may be to blame for a resident’s disease or infection. A Maine nursing home abuse and neglect attorney can assist individuals in determining whether their long-term care facility or nursing home is responsible for their injuries.

Similar to other more commonly known viruses, coronavirus, is more likely to cause serious illness and death to individuals over the age of 65 or those that are immunocompromised. Recent research conducted by the CDC suggests that the fatality rate for individuals ages 60 to 69 is over 3.5%; for those ages 70 to 79, the rate of death if about 8%, and jumps to close to 15% for those 80 years or older. Further, those suffering from heart disease, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes, and hypertension are at an increased risk of fatal complications.

Given this stark reality, nursing homes and assisted living facilities should abide by the CDC’s guidelines and recommendations to prevent the spread of disease. All of these facilities should have plans in place to prevent and control these viruses and infections from spreading to their residents. Moreover, they should have an emergency plan if an outbreak does occur. To minimize the risk of an outbreak, healthcare workers and staff at these facilities should follow basic hygiene habits. This includes thoroughly washing hands before and after providing care to a resident and wearing eye and face protection.

As the number of two-income households continues to increase, more families will begin to rely on Maine nursing homes to provide necessary care to their aging loved ones. Of course, selecting a nursing home for a loved one is a difficult decision. While many nursing homes are reputable facilities with care staff members, that simply is not the case for them all. Indeed, one study found that nearly 25 percent of all nursing home residents will experience at least one instance of physical abuse during their stay at a facility.

Under Maine law, nursing homes have a duty to provide an adequate level of care to each of their residents. Of course, this includes ensuring that residents are not abused by staff members or other residents, but it also includes making sure that residents’ physical needs are met. When a nursing home fails to live up to its duty, the resident (or their family members) can hold the facility accountable through a Maine nursing home lawsuit.

Arbitration contracts are an important part of many nursing home lawsuits. Thus, it is critical for residents and their family members to understand how arbitration contracts work, and what their limitations are. An arbitration agreement is a contract that is usually between the resident and the facility by which the parties agree not to pursue a claim through the court system. Instead, the parties agree that a neutral arbitrator will hear the case and render a binding decision.

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