Many Texans have been suffering either from the COVID-19 virus or the lockdowns meant to stem the tide of the pandemic. Yet, no segment of the population has suffered more than our seniors in assisted living and nursing facilities. From the onset, we knew these valued members of our community — and our families — were at the greatest risk.
Strict protocols were put in place to protect seniors in nursing homes, at great emotional cost to elders who were denied the comfort of family contact. Unfortunately, for too many seniors in our state, the pandemic protocols inflicted hardship without adding security. Seniors were denied access to family, while infection nevertheless burned through their facilities.
Negligence, incompetence, and apathy undermined every effort to safeguard vulnerable seniors. Sloppy facilities voided the sacrifice love one’s made and exposed residents to a deadly disease with predictable results.
One of the worst offending facilities is Regent Care Center in Laredo, where 90 residents contracted COVID-19 and 29 died. How can this happen in an atmosphere of heightened alert? We cannot blame visitors when visitors have been so severely restricted.
According to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, the answer must lie with the facility’s employees who reported 69 staff infections as of October 30. Those sky-high numbers indicate that Regent’s staff — nurses, nurse’s aides, orderlies, and housekeeping — did not take protocols seriously. That failure falls squarely on the shoulders of Regent’s management, which has a history of failure.
Subpar grades indicate numerous deficiencies
Regent Care Center in Laredo, a for-profit corporation comprising 186 certified beds, has a stated mission “to provide quality care and life in a warm, beautiful and luxurious setting for our residents and their families, a safe environment that offers personal and professional growth for our associates, and a prudent fiscal plan.”
But according to Medicare.gov, the official U.S. government website for Medicare that rates nursing homes for their performance in various categories, Regent Care Center in Laredo falls short of its expressed mission and state standards. The facility has a two-star (out of five) overall rating, which is generously labeled “below average.”
Areas where RCC Laredo falls short include:
- Health inspections — Inspectors in 2019 found the Center had failed to “provide appropriate care for residents who are continent or incontinent of bowel/bladder, appropriate catheter care, and appropriate care to prevent urinary tract infections” and to “provide medically-related social services to help each resident achieve the highest possible quality of life.” The Center also failed to assess patient needs in a timely manner upon arrival and develop the complete care plan promptly. For these failures, the Center was graded at two stars.
- Fire safety — Inspectors found two fire safety deficiencies in 2019 and rated the Center two stars.
- Staffing — With one hour and eight minutes of licensed nurse staff hours per resident per day, the Center lagged behind the Texas state average of one hour and 32 minutes and the national average of one hour and 40 minutes. The Center was also deficient in LPN/LVN hours per resident per day. It registered just 34 minutes, compared to one hour and 6 minutes (Texas average) and 55 minutes (U.S. average). The Center seems to rely heavily on nurses’ aides. This category earned the Center two stars.
It should surprise no one that a facility that scores below average on health and safety protocols could not effectively manage COVID-19 protocols to keep its residence safe.
Responding to your elder loved one’s needs
If you have an elder loved one in a Texas nursing home, you know the importance of frequent visits to check on their well-being, as well as the general performance of the facility and staff. The COVID-19 pandemic has severely limited visitor access, so elder residents have been cut off from essential lifelines of support. Still, you cannot let this situation deter you from a duty of primary importance.
If you believe your loved one has been harmed due to substandard nursing home care, resulting in COVID infection or another injury, our attorneys are prepared to help. We know how to deliver justice, to put an end to abuse and neglect, and to win compensation for the harm they have suffered. Call us at 833.201.1555 or Connect Online.