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In light of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the populations with the highest risk are the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions — two groups that often overlap. Disturbingly, in addition to COVID-19 risks, our elders are facing unprecedented rates of elder abuse and nursing home abuse in Mississippi and Alabama.
In an increasingly stressful time when we have a restricted ability to check on our loved ones, we trust that the people caring for them have their best interests in mind. Even though most nursing home staff provide high-quality care, this is not always the case.
If an older adult you love has been exploited or abused during the coronavirus pandemic, they deserve justice, and the responsible party needs to be held accountable. In this blog, we’ll outline what to do if your loved one is being mistreated during the coronavirus crisis.
We know that the majority of nursing home workers are brave, front-line healthcare workers that are keeping our loved ones safe during the coronavirus outbreak. We are grateful for their dedication and care during this challenging time. However, sometimes mistakes happen– or care centers prioritize profits over people.
However, many older people living in Mississippi and Alabama nursing homes risk neglect during the coronavirus pandemic. In some poorly managed nursing homes, the staff knew there were dangers and didn’t do enough to protect their residents, or they didn’t do enough to continue to meet their everyday needs, like eating and bathing. Others are understaffed or are cutting corners to save money during these uncertain times.
Coronavirus is extremely contagious. In Alabama, clusters of the disease have quickly infiltrated nursing homes. Over 469 residents at 54 nursing homes in 30 counties have tested positive for COVID-19. The situation is even worse in Mississippi, where at least 77 long-term care centers have residents with COVID-19.
However, not every nursing home or care facility publishes the number of coronavirus cases or deaths — leaving many families in the dark about the health of their loved ones.
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, nursing homes must tell residents and families when at least three residents develop COVID-19 symptoms within a three-day period.
Nursing homes must communicate not only the number of coronavirus cases and deaths in their facility, but the steps they are taking to protect their residents as well. These should include:
Providing information about COVID-19
Educating residents and staff about handwashing and have sanitizer available in every room
Implement use of masks and other face coverings, as well as personal protective equipment for staff
Isolating infected residents who remain in the facility
Screening all staff and people entering the home by taking their temperature
Enforcing sick leave policy, and discouraging anyone from coming in if they do not feel well
Nursing homes should be taking steps to protect your elderly loved ones. These are some warning signs they’re not taking the proper precautions:
We encourage people to call and check on their family members daily to make sure they are getting proper care and are not falling ill. Even seemingly “unrelated” symptoms like muscle fatigue and lack of smell could indicate a COVID-19 infection. If your loved one reports any of these or other coronavirus symptoms, let their care team know immediately.
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Family members must continue to check in with their elderly relatives as much as they can, calling them regularly and video chatting when possible. Consistent connection will help you keep track of their wellbeing, notice any changes in mood or behavior, and respond quickly if your loved one may have fallen ill. If the facility is limiting your communication, or don’t feel like you’ve gotten confirmation that your family or loved one is safe, call the police.
Everyone, no matter their age or where they live, deserve to be safe and treated with respect. As the family of older loved ones, you should be able to advocate on their behalf. If you need help making sure your loved ones are safe and protected, or you believe they’ve been the victims of abuse or neglect in an Alabama or Mississippi facility, don’t hesitate to reach out to an experienced attorney who can fight for you and your family.
At Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, we believe that our Alabama and Mississippi friends and neighbors deserve to live safe, healthy lives. When that safety is unnecessarily threatened, those responsible should be held accountable. If your loved ones need help and don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We can help you understand your options and fight for their safety. To get in touch with one of our experienced attorneys, please call our office at (251) 888-8888 or complete this brief form.
COVID-19 in Mississippi and the U.S. (2020, April 19). Mississippi State Department of Health. Retrieved from https://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/handlers/printcontent.cfm?ContentID=21659&ThisPageURL=http%3A%2F%2Fmsdh%2Ems%2Egov%2Fmsdhsite%2Findex%2Ecfm%2Findex%2Ecfm&EntryCode=21659&GroupID=14
Ortiz, A. (2020, March 6). As Coronavirus Spreads, How You Can Protect a Family Member in a Nursing Home. New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/06/us/nursing-home-coronavirus-deaths.html
Preparing for COVID-19: Long-Term Care Facilities, Nursing Homes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/long-term-care.html
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Spotting the signs of elder abuse. National Institute on Aging. Retrieved from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/infographics/spotting-signs-elder-abuse
Yurkanin, A. (2020, April 18). ‘An absolute war’ breaks out as coronavirus spreads in Alabama nursing homes. AL.com. Retrieved from https://www.al.com/news/2020/04/an-absolute-war-breaks-out-as-coronavirus-spreads-in-alabama-nursing-homes.html
Yurkanin, A. (2020, April 7). Testing shows coronavirus now in 31 Alabama nursing homes. AL.com. Retrieved from https://www.al.com/news/2020/04/testing-shows-coronavirus-now-in-31-alabama-nursing-homes.html
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.
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