When we send our loved ones to a nursing home, we expect them to be given the attention and quality care they deserve. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, however, many nursing homes have had to shut their doors to visitors as elderly residents have presented as high-risk for catching the virus, leaving abuse and neglect often concealed behind closed doors. As a result of outbreaks and quarantines, many facilities also became short-staffed—and many elderly residents suffered as a result.
According to a recent news report, a nursing home was fined $27,739 after elderly residents were neglected following staffing shortages. Based on a report released by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the nursing home left residents with bedsores in their waste for up to eight hours at a time. In addition, the nursing home failed to protect residents from emotional and physical harm, abuse, and mental anguish. With more than 100 cases of COVID-19—including 37 staffers—reported at the nursing home during an outbreak earlier this year, the facility became even more short-staffed than ever before, with no registered nurses or supervising staff available to keep an eye on residents. At one point, there was only one certified nursing assistant per 53 residents, which prevented vital sign monitoring every few hours for significantly ill residents.
Unfortunately, Maryland is no stranger to similar elder abuse and neglect and staffing challenges in its nursing homes. In addition, many elderly Maryland nursing home residents have been subject to different kinds of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.
Across the country, recruitment and retention of nursing facility staff continue to be a challenge for nursing and rehabilitation centers and institutions. Despite aggressive recruitment tactics using sign-up bonuses and additional benefits, training and hiring has been slow during the pandemic.
What Caused the Staff Shortage at Nursing Homes?
Since March 2020, the effects of COVID-19 have been particularly prevalent at nursing homes without adequate staffing or precautionary measures. In addition to residents falling ill or dying from the virus, staff levels have also decreased significantly because of quarantine requirements, hospitalizations, and staff members testing positive. This strain on staffing, however, did not start just because of the pandemic. Many nursing facilities have reported staffing issues long before the 2020 outbreak, and the struggle to stay adequately staffed was only exacerbated during the pandemic. In many nursing facilities lacking adequate staffing by licensed caregivers and registered nurses, residents often are neglected when it comes to regular hygiene or having their call bells answered in a timely fashion. Sometimes, residents wait as long as 45 minutes to an hour before a staff member is able to assist them. Although there are federal rules in place that state that nursing homes are required by federal law to provide enough staff for their residents, there is no clear federal standard that establishes ideal staffing standards or levels.
Do You Need a Maryland Nursing Home Attorney?
If you or someone you love has recently experienced abuse or neglect in a Maryland nursing home or long-term care facility, contact the lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen today for assistance. Our team of attorneys has collected more than $55 million on behalf of our clients and has represented individuals and their loved ones in all types of nursing home abuse and neglect claims in Maryland. To schedule a free initial consultation today, contact us at 800-654-1949.