April 7, 2021 | Nursing Home Abuse
Although COVID-19 cases have been on the decline, the elderly are being vaccinated, and Governor Andy Beshear made an announcement that he is relaxing some COVID restrictions, the disease has yet to be eradicated. Case in point: a new COVID-19 variant was introduced into a Kentucky nursing home. So far, at least 41 people have tested positive for the disease at the facility, including 14 staff members and 27 residents, but it is unclear how many of those positive test results are from the new variant.
The COVID-19 vaccine has significantly improved residents’ chances of weathering the worst effects of the virus. Reports show that only 30% of those vaccinated are showing symptoms of the virus, and even those with symptoms are showing more mild manifestations of the disease. While that is the good news, the bad news is that an unvaccinated individual introduced the new variant into the facility, and it spread between residents and caregivers, according to state leaders.
Although nursing homes were among the first targeted for vaccine distribution, the very real threat of COVID-19 still exists as some staff members, caregivers, and sickly residents may not have access to the vaccination yet. Therefore, maintaining proper health and safety protocols is still a must, not just in COVID times but throughout the year.
Unfortunately, even in the best of times, some Kentucky nursing homes have failed to maintain proper safety standards. Reports show that from 2014 to 2017 state nursing homes have received infection-control violations ranging from employees not washing their hands properly to not following disinfecting protocols.
It is understandable that during this difficult time, caring both for yourself and others can be overwhelming. However, nursing homes exist to provide reliable and quality care to their elderly residents. Failing to meet health inspection requirements or ignoring infection-based protocols can cost a resident their life. While there is nothing to suggest that this latest COVID-19 outbreak was caused by negligence, it should serve as a reminder to those with loved ones in long-term care facilities that more than ordinary care and vigilance is warranted.
Outbreaks and the spread of infections can sometimes be the result of neglect on the part of caregivers. Studies have pointed out that poor health care protocol, poor caregiver hygiene, sharing certain types of medical equipment between patients, and general neglect in the form of ignoring a resident’s medical symptoms or general care can lead to rampant infection rates. Typically, these infections were pneumonia, bronchitis, and diarrhea. Today, we can add COVID-19 to that list. Those with loved ones in nursing home facilities should watch for signs of frequent or recurrent infections or illnesses, as this is sometimes a warning sign of nursing home abuse or neglect.
If you have a loved one living in a long-term care facility and you suspect they may be suffering from abuse or neglect, it may be up to you to get them the help they need. Many residents being neglected or abused are fearful to come forward with their claims, or they may be unable to communicate their distress.