The pandemic has caused suffering for everyone, but the residents of Colorado nursing homes and their families have borne more than their share. Of the approximately 6000 Coloradans who have died from COVID -19, about 40% contracted it while in a nursing home. These premature deaths, illnesses, and months of separation from loved ones have caused tremendous pain.
COVID’s Destructive Wake
They have also caused financial problems to nursing homes statewide. On average, Colorado’s 230 nursing homes are operating at 67% capacity, with not enough residents to keep them financially afloat. Two major nursing home operators, SavaSeniorCare and Genesis HealthCare, have even announced plans to leave the state. The lack of residents is due to deaths from COVID-19, a prohibition against facilities with a confirmed case of COVID admitting new residents, and the reluctance of family members to admit loved ones to a nursing home during pandemic conditions with visitation restrictions in place.
A Turning Point
On April 16, 2021, per public health order, visitation is finally being allowed to resume. This hopeful sign, as well as increased funding for elder care facilities under the recently passed American Rescue Plan, may be an indication that things are finally turning around. If you have been caring for an elderly or disabled loved one throughout the pandemic and are now considering residential skilled care, be sure to review the facility’s federal ranking. It is also a good idea to visit facilities multiple times before making your choice.
Fighting Elderly Abuse and Neglect
Sadly, abuse and neglect at nursing homes is an all-too-common occurrence. Per the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act and the 2017 Codes of Federal Regulation any nursing facility that accepts Medicaid or Medicare funding must meet minimum standards, including:
- Maintain adequate staff
- Develop a comprehensive care plan for each resident
- Ensure that residents do not develop pressure sores. If a resident has pressure sores, the facility must treat them and take steps to prevent new sores from developing
- Ensure that residents have adequate nutrition and hydration
- Ensure that residents have the assistive devices they need to prevent accidents
These are not the only requirements. Every facility in Colorado is eligible for Medicare and Medicaid funding and must therefore meet federal standards.
The financial strain some facilities are now experiencing may lead to closures and consolidations, which could put additional strain on residents and staff. Should a facility be acquired by a private equity firm, families should know that, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, there is a predictable increase in mortality when facilities are privately-acquired. The bureau theorizes this increased mortality is due to the diversion of staff funding from nursing care to billing and other managerial tasks, and an increase in the administration of antipsychotic drugs to residents.
When making the decision to entrust your loved one to facility care, you should not have to fear the possibility of abuse or neglect. It is reasonable to expect that nursing homes will provide quality care. That is why these facilities exist.
We’re Here to Help
If you believe your loved one has suffered neglect or abuse while in a nursing home, you should call a nursing home abuse lawyer right away. If you believe your loved one has passed away due to abuse or neglect sustained while in a nursing home facility, you should call a wrongful death lawyer. We have helped families make both of these difficult claims.
Call us. We want to help you.
Article by Molly Fuscher, Paralegal