Disreputable Facility Leads Hidalgo County in Pandemic Fatalities
The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on everyone, but no segment of the population has suffered as much as our seniors. From the beginning, it was apparent they were the highest risk group and needed to be protected. But protocols undertaken to protect seniors left them socially isolated, cut off from family members they relied on for emotional support, and more reliant than ever on nursing facilities that simply don’t measure up.
Could facilities that consistently earned low grades on inspections be trusted to implement more stringent protocols? In too many cases, the answer was no, and senior nursing home residents have paid the ultimate price.
On deficient facility is the Las Palmas Healthcare Center in McAllen, Texas, a non-profit corporation maintaining 120 certified beds. On October 30, the Texas Department of Health and Human Services reported that 29 Las Palmas residents had died from a COVID-19 infection. Another 54 residents had recovered.
Why so many cases at a facility that had been sealed off from visitors for so much of the year? The answer may lie with the reported number of employee infections: 64. Apparently, the protocols Las Palmas had instructed its employees to observe did not inhibit their infection or prevent them from passing infections to patients.
A history of substandard care
If you visited the Las Palmas website, you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve come across the perfect facility to nurture an ailing loved one. The site boasts a rating of 4.7 out of Five Stars, based on an excess of 1,200 reviews. But inspections tell a different story.
According to Medicare.gov, a website that rates nursing facility performance, Las Palmas has an overall rating of one star, meaning “much below average.” That cumulative rating is based on a number of categories, several of which are dismal:
- Health inspections — One star out of five, due to complaints in the last year that have resulted in citations.
- Staffing rating — Two stars out of five. Although Las Palmas averages 30 more residents per day than average for Texas, the facility’s registered nurse hours per resident are roughly half the national average. More patients with fewer nurses. That’s a recipe for neglect.
- Short-term resident care — Two stars out of five. The facility has a higher than normal percentage of residents who are re-hospitalized after entering the facility. Las Palmas was also downgraded for having a lower than normal percentage of residents who are not ready to move around, care for themselves, or successfully return home at their time of discharge. The question must be asked: Why do so many Las Palmas residents fail to thrive in that environment? The natural conclusion to draw is that they’re not receiving quality care.
One star is the lowest overall rating Medicare.gov provides. When a facility has this much trouble maintaining an acceptable standard of care under normal conditions, it should not be surprising to see it fail when stricter measures are called for.
How you can protect your cherished loved ones
For elders residing in nursing facilities, concerned loved ones are often the only defense to neglect and abuse. Unfortunately, COVID-19 restrictions have prevented many family members from observing neglect at facilities, so their loved ones now face increased danger from COVID-19 infection and substandard care. But please, don’t let government mandates prevent you from protecting your loved ones.
If you suspect neglect has caused infection or some other injury, our attorneys are ready to investigate your case. If negligent, substandard care has caused illness or injury to your loved one, we are determined to deliver justice, including injunctive relief and cash compensation. Call our nursing home abuse lawyers at 833.201.1555 or Connect Online.