Each week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) collects data on Texas nursing homes. With this data, CMS analyzes the current state of nursing homes, including their response to, and management of, COVID-19. The most recent data from CMS is raising concerns about troubling issues in Texas nursing homes. What is most alarming is that the concerns extend far beyond the pandemic, and could be an indicator that facilities struggle with nursing home abuse or neglect.
Troubling Issues in Texas Nursing Homes
CMS data already shows that Texas nursing homes are struggling to maintain staff amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Many facilities report that they do not have adequate staff or resources to test residents for COVID-19, or coronavirus. Despite a mandate that all Texas nursing homes must test staff and residents, many are doing neither.
The result of staffing and testing inadequacies is resulting in a high percentage of Texas nursing homes reporting new signs of the coronavirus. Many advocates have concerns about the high numbers of positive cases in Texas facilities. Over 84 percent of Texas nursing homes report at least one case of coronavirus among staff or residents. At least 3,500 coronavirus-related deaths in the state have occurred in nursing homes.
One advocate tells KXAN News,
“The fact that the majority of nursing homes are saying that they haven’t tested their staff in the past week, and Texas is still going through a COVID-19 outbreak, that leads me to believe that many nursing homes in Texas are not in compliance with CMS’ requirements.”
COVID-19 Testing in Texas Nursing Homes
Testing for COVID-19 is incredibly important, especially in Texas nursing homes. Advocates say that testing is what gives officials the best data to work with. Testing helps identify possible outbreaks and prevent people who are sick from exposing nursing home residents. Unfortunately, many Texas nursing homes are not testing staff and residents as they should be.
According to CMS, 85 percent of nursing homes reported that they could test, or would be able to test all staff members within seven days. However, the following CMS report shows only 34 percent of facilities have actually done so. The CMS report shows that 87 percent of Texas nursing homes say they can test residents, but they are not doing it.
As a result of the poor testing policies, Texas ranks 47 out of 50 for the lowest percentage of testing in nursing homes. And it’s not just staff members who are not getting tested. Only 14 percent of nursing homes (163 out of 1,128) have tested residents with new symptoms or signs of the coronavirus.
COVID-19 Brings Troubling Issues to Light
The troubling issues being reported in Texas nursing homes are not new and did not develop because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the pandemic has brought many issues to light that were likely hiding. Kevin Warren, President and CEO of the Texas Health Care Association says,
“The COVID-19 pandemic and the data points referenced have unmasked the issues the nursing home profession in Texas continues to struggle with in fighting the virus. Particularly, as the federal government is now requiring regular testing based upon county positivity rates, concerns regarding the lack of testing supplies, the availability of lab capacity, and the need for continued resources remain problematic.”
Warren’s organization, the THCA, represents long-term care facilities. He believes that staffing shortages and low Medicaid reimbursement rates are exacerbating the problems in Texas nursing homes. But, with COVID-19 rates declining and facilities ramping up testing, he is hopeful that nursing homes will soon resume a more normal way of life.
Addressing Your Concerns about Nursing Homes
Staffing issues and a lack of COVID-19 testing is something that nursing homes across the United States are battling. Unfortunately, staffing issues are not exclusive to the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, this is an issue that has plagued Texas nursing homes for many years.
If you have concerns about nursing home care and someone you love who lives in a nursing home, you are not alone. There are thousands, if not millions, of people who have concerns about the quality of care in nursing homes. Yes, the COVID-19 pandemic has made these concerns even greater, but they are not restricted to these current times.
If you have concerns or questions, you should know that help is available. At MedMalFirm.com, our nursing home abuse lawyer in Houston is well aware of the questions and concerns that families have. Every day, we are helping families understand the roles and responsibilities of nursing homes.
We also consult with families who believe that their loved one has suffered from nursing home abuse or neglect. If you have concerns, do not hesitate to contact us. For a free consultation, call us at 877-887-4850. You can also reach us online through our confidential contact form.