In early March 2020, it was discovered COVID-19 was infecting residents at Life Care Center nursing home in Kirkland, Washington. At the time, family members of residents were concerned for the safety and wellbeing of their loved ones, as it was reported seven residents had died from the virus. According to the county, now at least 37 people with ties to Life Care Center have died from COVID-19.
In response to the deaths and the lack of proper protocols, health investigators were called to the facility. They gave the facility 18 days to secure the location and take the proper precautions to mitigate the risk of the virus spreading. If the facility failed to do so, health investigators said they would pull federal aid.
When officials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services returned with two-dozen health clinicians, they found that the Life Care Center failed to follow through with their obligations. They were unable to rapidly identify and manage sick residents, they did not notify the Department of Health about their respiratory outbreak back in February, and they failed to have a back-up clinician when their primary doctor fell ill.
According to WLBT, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also conducted its own investigation. They found that staff members were working while exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms and that many Life Care Center employees also worked in other nursing homes in the region. In addition to that, the CDC determined staff weren’t following proper gloves and googles precautions. There was also an inadequate supply of personal protective equipment, including hand sanitizer.
While the nursing home has not released an official statement regarding the reports, a spokesperson did acknowledge the shortcomings and stressed the outbreak and virus are uncharted territories for any nursing home to handle.
Over the course of the next 18 days, health investigators plan to make unannounced visits to Life Care Center. In addition to that, they’re asking to see a plan to change these urgent problems. Life Care Center of America has 199 other nursing home facilities across the country. All the facilities need to have emergency action plans in place for situations like this.
It’s imperative that all nursing homes follow the proper federal and state guidelines during this pandemic to protect the lives of their residents. When a facility fails to do so and residents die, there may be grounds for legal action. If you’ve lost a loved one as a result of an illness in their nursing home, a lawyer from Thomas Law Offices can evaluate the situation and help you determine how best to proceed to hold the nursing home accountable. Contact us today to learn more.