The Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis released insight on the grim conditions within for-profit nursing home chains during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Philadelphia nursing home neglect lawyers have reviewed the documents shared by the Subcommittee as part of the hearing “Examining Long-Term Care in America: The Impact of the Coronavirus in Nursing Homes.” These documents demonstrate the atrocities experienced by nursing home residents and their families during the beginning of the pandemic. Philadelphia nursing home neglect lawyers continue to receive calls from families who seek to hold nursing homes accountable for injuries sustained from neglect at a nursing facility during the pandemic.
Large, For-Profit Nursing Home Chains Scrutinized
The Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis investigated COVID-19 response from large, for-profit nursing home chains, specifically citing the following health care systems:
- Genesis Healthcare
- Consulate Health Care
- Ensign Group
- Life Care Centers of America
These health care chains operated over 850 skilled nursing facilities, caring for upwards of 80,000 residents in June 2020. The Subcommittee focused on the time between March 2020 – June 2020 for their investigation. Of note on this list, Genesis HealthCare is a prominent nursing home chain with facilities in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Philadelphia nursing home lawyers have litigated civil cases involving negligent care allegations at Genesis Healthcare nursing facilities.
Subcommittee Presents Key Findings
The Subcommittee presented four key findings at the hearing on September 21, 2022. The Committee also released documents that were uncovered during the course of the investigation from these corporations, including information on complaints and corporate structures.
Key Finding #1: Many nursing home facilities were severely understaffed during the beginning of the pandemic, resulting in deficient care, neglect and negative health outcomes for the residents
The Subcommittee found that numerous facilities reported having an insufficient number of nurses and care aides to perform resident care. This finding was supported by copious family complaints and concerns from nursing home front-line staff. Examples of these complaints were listed in the documents published prior to the hearing. The Subcommittee was able to link these complaints regarding understaffing to negative health outcomes, such as pressure ulcers, falls, and infections. A Philadelphia nurse understaffing lawyer recognizes that even good nurses can’t perform their jobs adequately when insufficient staffing ties their hands.
Some workers tied staffing shortages to corporate greed, rather than COVID-related outbreaks. In fact, one employee at a large nursing home chain was quoted as saying:
“I understand the building needs to save money, but we are being…taken advantage of so Administration can save money and look good to corporate.”
Key Finding #2: For profit nursing home chains did not supply their employees with an adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE)
Reports from nursing home employees, families, residents, and other stakeholders demonstrated that these chains failed to supply PPE to keep residents and staff members safe. Sample reports included:
- Staff required to wear the same mask for an entire week
- Staff not provided with isolation gowns and instead made their own out of plastic bags
- Resident denied cloth masks and provided with ill-fitting handkerchiefs
- Facility failed to provide hand sanitizers despite having positive COVID cases
Nursing homes that fail to provide adequate PPE to keep residents safe from infection may be liable for neglect when a resident contracts a preventable infection.
Key Finding #3: Many nursing homes pressured or forced staff to work despite the staff member having symptoms or testing positive for COVID-19
Employees at many nursing homes reported that their nursing homes required them to continue to work even when they displayed symptoms of COVID-19 or tested positive for the virus. Philadelphia nursing home neglect lawyers recognize that these actions endangered the lives of nursing home residents and the health and safety of other staff members. Despite these risks, nursing homes managers continued to act negligently by threatening employees with termination or negative actions on their personnel file for calling out sick. Nursing home employees reported that these facilities failed to follow the CDC quarantine recommendations and told employees who tested positive that they could continue to work.
Nursing homes that willfully disregarded CDC recommendations and exposed residents to unnecessary infection risks may be liable for neglect. Contact the Wieand Law Firm if you have questions about deficient care at a nursing home.
Key Finding #4: Complex corporate structures may have helped for-profit nursing home chains conceal profits and avoid legal and regulatory accountability
The Subcommittee and Philadelphia nursing home neglect lawyers voice concern about the convoluted corporate structures that the large nursing home chains investigated use to operate their business. For example, the Subcommittee provided information that in June 2020, Genesis HealthCare included over 700 distinct corporate entities. Individual nursing homes were separated by corporate structure through many levels of corporate intermediaries, keeping them distanced from the ultimate corporate parent. These discrete operating companies have allowed the corporate parent to shield itself from public scrutiny regarding quality ratings and regulatory infractions.
Philadelphia nursing home neglect lawyers and other experts claim that that this practice also allows these large organization to bury the true financial condition of a nursing home. The Subcommittee cited studies showing that for-profit nursing homes provided lower care quality and poorer health outcomes for residents.
Contact the Philadelphia Nursing Home Neglect Lawyers at the Wieand Law Firm.
The Wieand Law Firm, LLC has a long history of representing families of nursing home residents who have suffered harm from nursing home neglect. Our Philadelphia nurse understaffing lawyers seek to hold nursing homes accountable when understaffing results in resident harm. We work closely with families to hold these nursing homes liable for negligent acts. Call 215-666-7777 today or send us a message via the online form on our website to speak directly with an attorney about your legal options.