Why are Nursing Homes Overrun With COVID-19 Risks?

Whether you are concerned about COVID-19 risks in Los Angeles County nursing homes or at facilities elsewhere in Southern California, it is critical to learn more about why skilled nursing facilities are frequently coronavirus “hot spots” and to find out what you can do if an elderly loved one suffers a severe infection. According to a recent article from the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF), dozens of elderly residents at nursing homes in San Diego County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, and across the state are testing positive for COVID-19 despite the fact that many facilities say they are taking precautions.


What is happening, and why are nursing homes so dangerous? Are there specific qualities of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFEs) that make these places more hazardous for older adults who are at risk of severe infection from the virus? Or is the quality of care insufficient?


More than 40% of COVID-19 Deaths are Nursing Home Residents or Workers


The data makes clear that nursing homes are indeed “hot spots” when it comes to serious COVID-19 infections. As the article underscores, thus far in California, “more than 40% of COVID-19 fatalities [have been] nursing home residents or workers.” For many geriatricians, elder advocacy workers, and others in positions where they serve senior populations, the serious risks of infection and death in nursing homes was foreseeable. Indeed, according to Dr. Michael Wasserman, the president of the California Association of Long Term Care Medicine, “there were very few geriatricians around the country that didn’t know what was about to happen.”


Referring to the foreseeability of COVID-19 dangers inside nursing homes, Wasserman suggested that, although many people recognized the particular infection risks that older adults would face, many facilities are simply ill-equipped to mitigate those risks. As Wasserman underscored, “this [meaning the coronavirus pandemic] is the greatest threat to nursing home residents that we have seen in many years, if not ever.”


Nursing Homes Have a Problem with Quality Care and Infection Control


Many nursing homes in California and throughout the country, quite simply, do not provide a sufficiently high quality of care for residents and have problems with infection-control measures. Indeed, as the article highlighted, approximately 50% of California nursing homes that have had more than 10 deaths caused by COVID-19 have Medicare ratings of “below average” or “much below average.” Indeed, nursing homes in California have, “on average, nearly 13 deficiencies per facility,” which is significantly higher than the national average of seven deficiencies per facility.


In addition to poor infection-control and quality-control measures, many nursing home residents have been left on their own as a result of the pandemic. As the California Health Care Foundation article highlights, “with the pandemic necessitating physical distancing, visits and in-depth annual inspections have been halted,” which means that “transparency into resident health and safety has vanished.”


Learn More from a Los Angeles County Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer


If you are concerned about an elderly loved one’s safety in a nursing home, you can still take action despite restrictions during the pandemic. An experienced and compassionate Los Angeles County nursing home abuse attorney can speak with you today about your options. Contact the Walton Law Firm for more information.


See Related Blog Posts:

Five Things to Know About Nursing Home Falls in Orange County

Histories of Problems and Safety Violations in Nursing Homes with COVID Deaths


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