Almost 7,000 nursing home residents in the United States have died from coronavirus related complications. The New York Times calls them “death pits.” Couple that with the inability of family members to visit loved ones and you have the perfect storm. One that is inexcusable.
Many other states have identified nursing homes hit with coronavirus infections. 37 residents of the Life Care Center of Kirkland (Washington) died in recent weeks from the deadly virus. Police in New Jersey responded to a report of bodies being stacked in a shed outside a nursing home and found 17 residents who had died.
The head of the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living told CNN "The grim reality is that for the elderly, COVID-19 is almost a perfect killing machine.” Statements like that are only fueling the anxiety of both nursing home residents and their families.
These cases are both tragic and inexcusable. At least by identifying the facilities with problems, family members and residents at other facilities can breathe a bit easier. When a state like Wisconsin, however, refuses to provide any information, panic and fear results.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel made Freedom of Information demands on both the state and county governments. No one would name names. According to the Journal Sentinel, Dane County officials said 14 nursing homes had confirmed coronavirus cases but wouldn’t say how many cases or identify the nursing homes.
Waukesha County, the populous suburb of Milwaukee, was even more evasive. A health official there reportedly said to a reporter, “You are asked to not contact me, or any other Waukesha County Public Information Officer, or our Health Officer, with additional questions.”
Last September we published a piece about Wisconsin’s worst nursing homes. Of the state’s 364 facilities, 98 had serious deficiencies. 60 were rated by Medicare as much below average.
Many of the facilities have poor ratings because of poor staffing and / or poor patient care. Residents in these facilities are in for a rough time if coronavirus does get into the facility.
Linden Grove Waukesha
A family member of a resident at LindenGrove Waukesha told the Journal Sentinel that her mother had not had her sheets changed in five weeks! (LindenGrove’s CEO says bed linens are changed daily.)
Who is telling the truth?
Medicare says the 32 bed, non-profit LindenGrove Waukesha has a below average rating. Its health grades are “much below average” although its staffing is “much above average.” If media reports are correct and bed sheets haven’t been changed in five weeks, we suspect that many staff members have left. We have heard of staff at other facilities leaving because of a lack of personal protective equipment.
Inspectors issued the facility an immediate jeopardy finding in May 2019 after finding the staff failed to provide basic life support measures to a resident who was choking. Apparently, a resident began choking during a meal. Staff responded but couldn’t do much because a critical piece of equipment on their crash cart was missing pieces and not assembled.
The resident died.
Bria of Trinity Village
WISN disclosed multiple reports of coronavirus illness at the Bria of Trinity Village nursing home in Milwaukee. Apparently state officials only began investigating after learning of the infections from the television station. If true, that is significant because nursing home facilities are required to promptly report infectious illnesses within their facilities.
One man told reporters his 70 year old immune compromised mother is a sitting duck at the facility. His mother’s roommate alleged had coronavirus yet they allowed her in the same room with his mother and didn’t even provide masks.
The facility said it is “following all Department of Public Health and CDC guidelines to ensure the safety of this resident and all of our residents.” We have our doubts.
The gentleman whose mother is now showing symptoms of coronavirus told WISN, “Shame on you. It's vile. It's disgusting and if anything happens to my mother, you have blood on your hands and that is a promise.”
Like Linden Grove, Bria of Trinity Village also has terrible grades from Medicare. As of the original date of this post (April 20, 2020), the facility has an overall rating of “much below average” and individual ratings for staffing and healthcare of “much below average.” (Other nearby Bria nursing homes have grades of below average (Bria of Forest Edge, Bria of River Oaks) or much below average (Bria of Geneva, Bria of Westmont, Bria of Palos Hills and Bria of Chicago Heights.))
Medicare says the facility has received 33 citations. The average in Wisconsin is just 7. In its last major inspection (October 2019), regulators found numerous problems including residents with bedsores. The problem was so bad that the facility was issued an immediate jeopardy finding.
That same inspection found numerous sanitation violations, something that worries us with the current coronavirus pandemic. In one instance, the inspector observed “Dietary Aide ‘R’ did not remove her gloves or wash her hands after contaminating his gloves after touching non-sanitized food surfaces and before touching ready to eat food. In another instance, an aide was using a dishwasher even though the machine wasn’t working properly and heating the water to the temperature necessary to kill germs.
Now more than ever skilled nursing facilities must maintain the highest standards of good hygiene. Allowing a coronavirus patient to share a room with a noninfected patient and without masks is a recipe for disaster.
In August, the facility was cited for not promptly notifying family members and doctors when a resident’s condition declines. Unfortunately, we are seeing this now in nursing homes across the country.
Wisconsin Coronavirus Nursing Home Lawyers
No one in a nursing facility should ever have to worry about infectious diseases. Hospitals do much better on average than nursing homes. That because hospitals have better staffing ratios, better training and better equipment. None of that should be used as an excuse.
We know that some carriers of COVID-19 are asymptomatic. That means despite the best precautions, a couple healthcare workers will inevitably bring the virus into facilities. Proper PPE, hand sanitation and infectious disease protocols should still prevent residents from contracting the disease.
How does coronavirus spread through nursing homes? It spreads when staff members don’t change their gloves, it happens when they fail to notify the state and CDC of a suspected case and it happens when facilities don’t have proper staffing levels, proper training and proper protective gear.
The Wisconsin nursing home abuse lawyers at Mahany law and our national network can help patients and their families anywhere in United States. Although we are now a national boutique law firm with cases in 40 states, our home base remains here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We are Wisconsin lawyers for Wisconsin people.
If you or a loved one contracted COVID-19 in a nursing home, adult day care, assisted living facility or a group home, we can help.
How Long Do I Have to Sue a Nursing Home?
The time period to sue varies greatly from state to state. Wisconsin law generally gives personal injury and medical malpractice victims 3 years to sue. That time period could be much less if the nursing home is owned by the state, county or municipality.
Even though one has 3 years to sue, we recommend that if you or a loved one are injured in a Wisconsin nursing home you contact us immediately.
Why? It’s a sad reality that many folks in nursing homes are nearing the end of life. Memories fade, witnesses die and staff turnover is often high. An experienced Wisconsin nursing home abuse lawyer can immediately begin to investigate and nail down important evidence and witnesses.
Damages in Wisconsin Nursing Home Abuse Cases
Bringing a claim for personal injuries or other abuse does two things. It helps put a stop to bad behavior and can result in an award of significant monetary damages. In Wisconsin, compensation is available for:
- Medical Expenses (current and future)
- Pain and Suffering
- Emotional Distress and Mental Anguish
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life
- Loss of Companionship
In certain egregious cases punitive damages may also be available. In Wisconsin, punitive damages are limited to the greater of $200,000 or twice actual damages. One of our Wisconsin nursing home abuse lawyers can help you determine what your case is worth.
Mahany Law - Wisconsin Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers for Wisconsin People
Mahany Law has offices and lawyers throughout the United States. We are proud, however, to call Wisconsin our home. In fact, our headquarters and home office are located in the Milwaukee suburb of Wauwatosa.
Learn what we can do for you and what makes us different.
First, nursing homes must obey both federal and state laws and thousands of pages of complex regulations. We know the laws. In fact, attorney Brian Mahany spent several years in the capitol lobbying for better nursing home laws. Our deep knowledge of the industry gives us a leg up on other lawyers.
Second, most nursing homes have insurance. Our nursing home abuse lawyers know how to get insurance companies to pay. We have also learned that insurance companies know which lawyers try case and those that simply look for a quick settlement. That is why we hand pick everyone who handles nursing home cases.
For more information, visit our nursing home abuse and coronavirus nursing home information pages. Ready to see if you have a case? Contact us online, by email [hidden email] or by phone 414-258-2375. All inquiries are protected by the attorney – client privilege. Cases handled anywhere in Wisconsin and nationwide.