COVID-19 & Nursing Home Negligence in New York
At least 3,000 people have died from confirmed COVID-19 cases in nursing homes and assisted care facilities across New York State, according to the New York State Department of Health. In addition, officials believe that there have been approximately 3,000 additional COVID-19 related deaths at these New York nursing homes and assisted care facilities.
Thousands of residents suffer from nursing home abuse and neglect each year in New York. These numbers are particularly frightening because they come at a time when nursing homes are limiting or prohibiting visits from friends and family members, who would have otherwise detected the abuse or neglect and protected their loved ones from harm.
If your loved one recently died in a nursing home due to COVID-19, or you believe that your loved one is suffering from abuse or neglect at a long-term care facility, Finz & Finz, P.C. is here to help you stand up for your loved one’s legal rights.
With over 35 years of experience helping victims across New York, our compassionate nursing home negligence lawyers understand the devastating impact that neglect and abuse in these facilities can have on residents and families. As demonstrated by our outstanding case results and testimonials from past clients, we have a proven track record of aggressively fighting for the rights of our clients and helping them seek and achieve the justice and full compensation that they deserve.
To get started, contact Finz & Finz, P.C. today by phone or fill out our quick online form to schedule your free legal consultation.
Can a New York Nursing Home Be Sued for COVID-19 Outbreaks?
In April 2020, New York Governor signed into law the Emergency Disaster Treatment Protection Act, which provides significant protections for health care facilities and their staff from civil and criminal liability for most actions related to COVID-19, including a heightened burden of proof called “gross negligence.”
Nonetheless, if your loved one is suffering from COVID-19 or has died from the virus after exposure at a nursing home or other extended care facility, then you could still have a legal claim. The current law has several exceptions that might apply to your case. Additionally, the New York State Legislature is considering a bill that would modify or repeal these liability protections currently granted to nursing homes and other healthcare facilities. If the proposed bill is signed into law, it may allow for additional COVID-19 negligence lawsuits to be filed against nursing homes and other healthcare facilities.
Our highly experienced COVID-19 nursing home negligence attorneys are ready to investigate and evaluate the circumstances of your or your loved one’s case, help navigate New York’s complex regulations, and fight for your legal rights.
How Would Gross Negligence Apply in a COVID-19 Nursing Home Death?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended several measures that nursing homes should implement to keep residents and workers safe from COVID-19.
Recommended best practices include:
- Actively monitor residents, including new admissions and re-admissions, for symptoms consistent with COVID-19
- Delay visits by non-essential personnel when necessary to prevent or control the spread of coronavirus
- Designate at least one staff member to manage the facility’s infection prevention and control program and procedures and make sure they monitor CDC guidance for updated information, as well as staying in close contact with state and local health departments
- Educate staff, residents, and visitors on the risks of COVID-19 and the measures that the facility is taking to mitigate these risks, including steps that individuals can take to protect themselves, such as social distancing
- Identify a space in the facility to monitor and care for residents with COVID-19, and designate procedures to test, transport, and isolate potentially-infected individuals
- Implement policies for sick leave that help staff stay home when they are ill, such as flexible and non-punitive policies
- Notify residents and visitors that they must wear masks whenever possible inside the facility and during excursions outside the facility
- Plan for visitor restrictions, including rules prohibiting visits by anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, preparing ways to notify visitors of the current limits, and facilitating alternative ways for residents to communicate with people outside the facility
- Provide and regularly replenish all supplies that are necessary for infection prevention and control, such as hand sanitizer, soap, paper towels, tissues, trash cans, facemasks, face shields, respirators, gloves, eye protection, and gowns
- Regularly clean and disinfect common areas, frequently touched surfaces, shared equipment, and resident rooms with EPA-registered disinfectant
- Reinforce requirements for staff to wash their hands, use a facemask and other personal protective equipment (PPE) correctly, and avoid coming to work when sick
- Screen staff at the beginning of each shift for fever and other COVID-19 symptoms
- Submit data to the CDC at least weekly on COVID-19 cases, the available supply of protective equipment and other supplies, and levels of staffing
- Test residents and staff for COVID-19 in compliance with federal, state, and local requirements
Additional steps that nursing homes and related facilities should take include:
- Aggressive social distancing – To help ensure residents remain at least six feet apart, facilities should consider cancelling all group activities and communal dining. They should also remind residents and staff to regularly wash their hands and to wear facemasks and maintain social distancing when in common areas.
Alternatively, they might restrict participation in group activities and communal dining to only residents that the facility has confirmed do not have COVID-19. In these cases, outdoor activities are preferred.
The facility should also take extra precautions, such as providing facemasks and additional PPE and providing defined times for activities to help staff and residents’ family members plan and participate.
- Restricting visitors and non-essential personnel – The facility should notify the families of residents through a letter or email that no in-person visits are allowed at the facility, except in certain emergencies like end-of-life situations. This should include prohibiting visits by non-essential personnel, such as volunteers and hairstylists.
They should also post signs at entrances about visitor restrictions to help inform people who might miss these notifications. The facility should also encourage remote options when possible, such as family visitations and personnel visits over video conference applications like Zoom.
Once restrictions from government and public health officials are relaxed, facilities should still consider limiting groups of visitors to no more than two people. They should also consider requiring that guests schedule their visit in advance and remain in a designated place like an outdoor patio throughout the visit.
What Is the ‘Nursing Home COVID-19 Protection and Prevention Act’
The Nursing Home COVID-19 Protection and Prevention Act (S.3768) is a bill that was introduced in the U.S. Senate in May 2020 and has received support from over 35 organizations that represent the rights of older adults, health care providers, and people with disabilities.
The intention of this legislation is to protect residents and workers in nursing homes, psychiatric hospitals, intermediate care, and other similar facilities. However, this Act has not yet been signed into law.
Specifically, the bill would provide $20 billion to support the costs of protective equipment, testing for COVID-19, increased staffing, and other essential needs. It would also help fund support for workers at these facilities through benefits like hazard pay and sick leave.
Additionally, the law would provide additional oversight of nursing homes and related facilities. If the bill is passed, it will require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to issue guidance on ways to effectively mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at these facilities.
This includes guidance on “co-horting” or separating infected and exposed residents into non-traditional settings like hotels or into areas of the facility apart from non-exposed residents. This bill would also require HHS to collect data across the country and regularly issue reports on COVID-19 cases and deaths at nursing homes and related facilities.
Why You Should Call a Nursing Home COVID-19 Negligence Lawyer
When you work with a nursing home COVID-19 negligence lawyer, they will handle all the details of your case, so you can focus on caring for your loved one. They will fully investigate your case, gather the evidence needed to support your claim, prepare any necessary paperwork and legal documents, and aggressively stand up for your rights. A COVID-19 nursing home attorney will be in your corner every step of the way.
Get Help with Your COVID-19 Nursing Home Negligence Case
For help with your COVID-19 nursing home negligence case, contact Finz & Finz, P.C. today. We are committed to helping you fight for the full compensation you and your family deserve.
Call us today or fill out our quick online form to set up your free case evaluation.