Washington Facility Failures Highlight Coronavirus Risk for Southern California Nursing Homes

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At Life Care Center in Kirkland, Wash., a nursing home outside of Seattle, 35 people have died of coronavirus (COVID-19) and over 129 have tested positive – including 81 residents — since symptoms first began in late January.

Now under investigation by federal authorities for its failures surrounding those cases, the facility has been dubbed the “epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic in the United States” and has been linked to about one-fourth of coronavirus-related deaths in the country.

“Confusion inside the nursing home and among state health officials over who was responsible for testing sick patients allowed the disease to continue spreading, turning Life Care into the nation’s largest source of COVID-19 fatalities,” according to the Seattle Times.

In addition to its failure to comply with CDC guidelines for nursing homes and other long-term care facilities by allowing sick staff to continue working, the actions of Life Care Center have put our most vulnerable population in jeopardy throughout the country.

Now rapidly spreading in the United States – including southern California – the coronavirus continues to pose the greatest threat to those 60 years of age and older. According to Keiser Medical, 2.2 million people aged 65+ currently reside in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities nationwide.

As California braces for an increase in coronavirus cases, there is a possibility that our nursing home residents and those in other long-term care facilities could be facing severe injury or death related to the coronavirus. In addition to often having underlying health conditions, residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities are especially at risk due to the dual threat of their age and close living conditions.

To prevent the devastation at Life Care Center from being repeated, staff must proactively work to prevent introduction of the coronavirus into the patient population while also adequately preparing to handle an outbreak. Currently, 8 out of 10 deaths reported in the United States from COVID-19 have been in adults 65 years of age and older.

Symptoms of COVID-19, which can appear anywhere from two to 14 days after exposure to an infected person, include fever, cough and shortness of breath. These symptoms are exacerbated in those with heart, lung or kidney disease, or those with an underlying health condition like diabetes. Staff should exercise consistent handwashing practices or, when handwashing is not accessible, liberally use hand sanitizer with at least 60% isopropyl alcohol. Patients should also be encouraged to wash their hands regularly, and all group activities and family dinners should be proactively cancelled. Visits from relatives should also be encouraged to occur remotely online.

If what happened at Life Care Center reoccurs, the devastation among family members and loved ones of residents here in southern California would be widespread, and it would be a failure for statewide efforts aimed at containing the virus. If you are concerned about an elderly loved one’s exposure to COVID-19 or if you believe they have exhibited symptoms of coronavirus but have not been tested, it is critical to seek advice from an experienced elderly abuse attorney.

Why An Experienced Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Matters?

At Stipp Law Firm, our nursing home abuse lawyers have litigated against those responsible for operating and managing Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF), Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFE), Assisted Living Facility and Long Term Care Centers (LTAC) profiting from the abuse and neglect of elders and dependent adults.

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