For the majority of 2020, the entire world has felt the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. As of January 2021, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of over 400,000 Americans. A significant portion of these deaths come from nursing homes. Deaths linked to long-term care facilities account for 37% of all COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. In some states, these deaths make up over half of all deaths.
Residents of long-term care facilities account for less than 1% of the U.S. population, yet they account for a shocking portion of COVID-19 deaths. However, the coronavirus is not the only thing claiming the lives of thousands of elderly residents. Unfortunately, cases of nursing home neglect have surged throughout the pandemic. Many of these cases are due to overwhelmed staff and slow declines due to isolation.
While the pandemic impacted nursing home residents significantly, it also shined a light on what is really going on in these facilities. Many residents are being neglected, suffering bedsores that reach the bone, starvation or thirst, and extreme isolation. This lack of care has led to countless nursing home deaths.
When you put your loved one in the care of a nursing home, you expect them to receive the highest level of care imaginable. However, far too often, that isn’t the case. Countless elders experience neglect and abuse while in long-term care facilities, often leading to their untimely demise.
If your loved one experienced nursing home neglect during the pandemic, contact Wormington & Bollinger and let our nursing home abuse attorneys fight for the justice they deserve.
Nursing Homes and COVID-19
Healthcare experts consider the elderly (and, more specifically, those in long-term care facilities) a high-risk population. Due to their advanced age and many of them living with underlying health conditions, they are more likely to experience severe, potentially life-threatening cases if they contract COVID-19.
To keep these residents safe, these facilities have had to isolate them to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Unfortunately, this has not stopped elders from contracting the virus. As of January 2021, there have been:
- Over 1 million total cases in long-term care facilities
- Over 140,000 total deaths in these facilities
- And over 31,000 facilities affected
As we stated earlier, while less than 1% of the U.S. population lives in these facilities, 37% of all COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are residents of long-term care facilities. Unfortunately, during this pandemic, the coronavirus is not the only threat to nursing home residents. Cases of nursing home neglect and abuse have soared during this time, claiming the lives of thousands of residents.
The Reality of Nursing Homes
As COVID-19 continues to be a lingering threat, it has unveiled a troubling issue plaguing nursing homes throughout the country. The conditions in some of these facilities have always been less than favorable, but now, they have only gotten worse. Residents are left in soiled diapers so long that their skin rots and peels off. Their bedsores fester without treatment until it eats to the bone. And in some cases, residents don’t receive adequate nutrition.
On top of these conditions, there is a growing number of deaths without a clear-cut cause. Doctors and healthcare experts believe that isolation is hitting these residents hard. These residents have to isolate themselves from their loved ones to keep them safe. However, this has led many to experience bouts of depression, despair, and extreme loneliness. Doctors even listed the cause of death on their death certificates as “failure to thrive.”
Nursing Home Analysis
Stephen Kaye, a nursing home expert and professor at the Institute on Health and Aging at the University of California, San Francisco, analyzed data from over 15,000 facilities for the Associated Press. He found that for every two victims of COVID-19 in these facilities, there was another who prematurely died from other causes.
He predicted that these “excess deaths” could grow to over 40,000 since March. Kaye found that the more the virus spread through a facility, the greater the level of deaths from other reasons. He suggests that care across the rest of the home suffered because workers had to spend so much of their time attending to COVID-19 patients.
In many nursing homes, staffs were short-handed because employees also contracted the virus, as well. Kaye states that “The healthcare system operates kind of on the edge, just on the margin, so that if there’s a crisis, we can’t cope. There are not enough people to look after the nursing home residents.”
While some healthcare experts refute these claims, other stories from residents themselves spark truth to Kaye’s assumptions. A resident of a nursing home in Birmingham, Alabama, Donald Wallace, was able to avoid contracting COVID-19. However, he did face other consequences.
Wallace became so malnourished and dehydrated that his weight fell to 98 pounds, and his son likened his appearance to that of someone in a concentration camp. Among other things, Wallace experienced septic shock (suggesting an untreated urinary tract infection), E. coli from his own feces (hinting at poor hygiene), and much more.
In essence, the facility tasked with caring for Wallace stopped caring for him and neglected him. And unfortunately, Wallace is not alone in this experience.
Contact Wormington & Bollinger
No one expects their loved one to experience abuse and neglect at the hands of those responsible for caring for them. However, that occurs far more often than we would like. The COVID-19 pandemic has only made things worse. Thousands of residents have died from the virus. However, countless others have died from other causes.
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the state of many of these facilities has worsened. Cases of nursing home neglect and abuse continue to surge throughout this pandemic. Facilities are either understaffed, ill-equipped, or lack the willingness to care for their residents appropriately.
Wormington & Bollinger understand how much your elderly loved ones mean to you, which is why we are here to fight for the justice you deserve. If your loved one suffered nursing home neglect or abuse, contact us today.