MedMalFirm.com nursing home abuse lawyer, Charles Brown, was recently interviewed by KPRC 2 News in Houston discussing the current status of nursing homes amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Read on to find out why Texans and lawmakers are calling for more transparency and testing in Texas nursing homes.
Lack of Transparency in Texas Nursing Homes
Fear and uncertainty are gripping Texas nursing home residents and their families. This fear has only increased since officials restricted visits at nursing homes. Across the state, more than 380 nursing homes report cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. There are also 514 deaths reported in nursing homes across the state. These deaths account for almost half of all COVID-19 fatalities in the state.
In his interview with KPRC 2, Mr. Brown says,
“I would say that nursing homes are predictably a hotbed for what we’re going to deal with and are still going to deal with in the fall.”
While these numbers are certainly not small, a news investigation suggests that they are likely much higher. Nursing homes are not required to publicly disclose if their facility has a COVID-19 outbreak, which makes it difficult for families to know whether their loved ones are safe.
Texas nursing homes and county health departments are not being transparent in their reporting. Even the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (THHS), which oversees long-term care facilities, is only releasing raw numbers to the public. KPRC 2 News Investigative Reporter, Robert Arnold, reports that Texans are calling for better testing and transparency at Texas nursing homes.
Individuals and media outlets across Texas are asking THHS to release the names of nursing homes that have COVID-19 cases. THHS is deferring that decision to the Attorney General’s office. For families, the fear and uncertainty continue as they have no way of knowing whether their loved ones have been exposed to COVID-19.
KPRC 2 News and NBC Affiliates Create Nursing Home Database
In response to the uncertainty and near outrage from nursing home residents and their families, KPRC 2 News and their NBC affiliates have taken matters into their own hands. In the absence of a state database listing which facilities have active COVID-19 cases, KPRC 2 has created one. KPRC and NBC affiliates have reached out to nursing homes across Texas.
Together, a database is growing. The database shows the name of the facility, county, city and COVID status. The goal of the database is to provide more transparency about what is happening inside Texas nursing homes. Not only is this information valuable now, but it will help shape future response to viral outbreaks.
Lawmakers Call for Testing of Nursing Home Residents and Staff
Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, has ordered COVID-19 testing for all nursing home residents and staff. State officials estimate that there are around 80,000 nursing home residents in the state, and around twice that many staff members. So far, however, the state has not detailed how this testing will take place. Congresswoman, Sheila Jackson Lee says,
“We’ve got to have the highest level of medical care which includes testing and reporting the data to know how we continue to handle nursing homes.”
Unfortunately, Texas health officials seem to have no idea of how best to conduct widespread testing. Some officials are concerned about the cost of testing, hiring staff to conduct them and who will pay for personal protective equipment (PPE). If the answer is a matter of money or logistics, Mr. Brown says,
“If we’re going to spend the money to bail out airlines because they’re a national requirement, how much more so are nursing homes where they’re taking care of loved ones and taking care of the sickest among us?”
What is Next for Texas Nursing Homes?
Certainly, nursing homes should be a priority. Unfortunately, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing homes seem to have fallen a bit by the wayside. Nursing homes across the United States have reported shortages of PPE and staff. Residents and family members have also reported inconsistent follow-through with guidelines.
While these situations can definitely be frustrating, they do not necessarily equate with negligence or wrongdoing. Mr. Brown reminds nursing home residents and families that these are unprecedented times:
“The COVID-19 epidemic is unlike anything we have ever dealt with. We know that healthcare providers are doing their best to help patients and residents.”
Given that COVID-19 is something that the nursing home, healthcare and legal industries have never had to deal with before, Mr. Brown and his team at MedMalFirm.com have decided not to accept COVID-19 related cases. In their coronavirus lawsuit announcement last week, Mr. Brown says,
“Given the unprecedented circumstances surrounding COVID-19, we believe that, under the circumstances, assuming good-faith efforts to treat, that we can neither prove a breach of the standard of care nor causation. We do not believe that there is a true standard of care in light of the uniqueness of this situation. Therefore, we will not be accepting cases where the healthcare provider acted in good faith.”
Information for Nursing Home Residents and Their Families
During this time, you may have questions or concerns about the legal rights of residents in Texas nursing homes, or your legal rights as a family member. These are truly unprecedented times, and it is important that you look for information from reliable sources. At MedMalFirm.com, we are not accepting COVID-19 lawsuits against healthcare providers. We do, however, remain dedicated to nursing home residents and their families.
Here are some helpful sources of information about COVID-19 and nursing home guidelines:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Texas Department of State Health Services
- American Health Care Association
- Long Term Care Community Coalition
If you suspect nursing home abuse or neglect that is not related to COVID-19, please contact MedMalFirm.com. The COVID-19 pandemic may be topping headlines, but that does not mean that nursing home abuse and neglect have stopped happening. If you suspect abuse or neglect, get help right away.
To find out more about your rights and possible options to take legal action against those suspected of nursing home abuse or neglect, schedule a free consultation with MedMalFirm.com. Call 877-887-4850, or complete our online contact form to get started.