Want to know the real reason so many nursing home patients died from the coronavirus pandemic? Greed.
Nursing home administrators blame a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and staff. That may be true for some nursing homes but when one looks behind the curtain, the real culprit is often greed.
Early in the pandemic Congress heard the pleas from nursing homes as well as nursing home residents. Patients in these facilities were dropping like flies. In some of these facilities, dozens of people died within a few weeks. One elderly woman (a COVID-19 survivor) that each day she would wonder if she would ever see her family again.
Families couldn’t visit and every morning the talk was on who died. COVID spread through her nursing home like fire through kindling. Eventually she would get sick as well but thankfully, she survived. Her husband who was in the same facility was not so lucky.
Congress heard those pleas for help and passed the CARES act. While most people associated CARES with stimulus checks, billions of dollars were earmarked for nursing homes.
This week in a Senate Finance Committee Hearing, senators heard testimony from a wide range of stakeholders. One person who testified was a CNA from the for profit Genesis nursing home in Greenville, Rhode Island.
According to CNA Adelina Ramos, 19 residents and 1 staff member at the 160 bed facility died from COVID. She says the facility couldn’t find workers during the height of the pandemic.
Adelina makes just $12.34 an hour. Not even a living wage. The corporate owner of the facility accepted millions of dollars in CARES Act funds and other taxpayer funded assistance last year.
Did the money go to paying higher salaries in order to attract workers? Adelina didn’t see it. Instead, senators heard how the company gave the then CEO a $5.2 million retention bonus and since he left last year, the new CEO received $8 million.
We have no issue with CEOs getting paid well. But if the companies they direct are accepting taxpayer dollars, we have the right to ensure the money was properly spent. Not using the CARES money to pay higher wages in order to attract desperately needed workers is wrong. Especially when the company gives its CEO a bonus.
It’s up to Congress to decide whether Genesis and many other nursing homes properly spent their bailout monies. But the decisions made by Genesis may impact whether thousands of families can bring negligence lawsuits against the company.
Nursing Home Immunity
In the early days of the pandemic, Americans were scared. Night after night millions of Americans watched Dr. Fauci and politicians warn us of the dangers of politicians. Nursing home lobbyists didn’t miss the opportunity.
Dozens of governors issued emergency orders while state legislatures passed immunity bills. All do the same thing. They say a nursing home can’t be sued for its own negligence.
Although we are staunch advocates for nursing home residents and their families, we understand that if a facility truly can’t find masks or can’t fill vacancies on shift because all their staff is sick or in quarantine, we get it. Unfortunately most of the emergency measures give near blanket immunity to nursing homes, even if they are negligent.
The exception in most legislation is for gross negligence or deliberate acts. We don’t think that any nursing home deliberately killed off their patients. That leaves gross negligence.
According to the Legal Dictionary, gross negligence is defined as, “a conscious and voluntary disregard of the need to use reasonable care, which is likely to cause foreseeable grave injury or harm to persons, property, or both. It is conduct that is extreme when compared with ordinary negligence.”
Is giving a nursing home CEO a $5 million bonus while thousands of patients are dying a “conscious disregard of the need to use reasonable care”? We think when jurors hear the truth they will be pissed and send a clear message to these facilities.
NY – Epicenter of Nursing Home Deaths
As this post is written, new information suggests that NY Governor Andrew Cuomo hid information critical of New York’s handling of nursing home patients during the pandemic. Already the N.Y. Legislature has passed a watered down and more reasonable immunity protocol.
Finding a lawyer to take a nursing home death case where the death occurred after March or April of 2020. What is worse, many of the COVID immunity schemes aren’t limited to death by COVID. That means if a loved one dies of a preventable bedsore, in many states, families can’t sue even though the death has nothing to do with coronavirus.
To learn more about Genesis HealthCare, visit our special report on Genesis nursing home neglect. We have been warning about them for years. Want to know more about COVID immunity laws? We have information about that as well.
As noted above, coronavirus outbreaks in our nursing homes are largely preventable. If a loved one died in a nursing home or assisted living facility because of coronavirus or coronavirus complications, we can help.
To see if you have a case, contact us online, by email [hidden email] or by phone 833.201.1555. All inquiries are protected by the attorney – client privilege. Cases handled nationwide.