COVID deaths hit 25 for Indian Oaks Living Center
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, one fact we knew early on is consistently reinforced: the elderly are particularly vulnerable to the virus and, once infected, suffer a higher rate of fatalities. For this reason, Texas and other states have restricted visitor access to nursing homes, cutting seniors off from loved ones who provide emotional support and check on their welfare.
The result has been social isolation, which is detrimental to elderly nursing home residents, as well as the loss of critical advocacy for their rights at the facilities. The benefit of reduced risk of infection was supposed to outweigh these costs, but too many Texas facilities have not been able to deter the spread of the virus. Nursing home deaths due to COVID-19 are spiking, even as knowledge of the disease and proper prevention grows.
Substandard staffing hints at negligent care
At Harker Heights, the Indian Oaks Living Center has recorded 25 COVID-19 fatalities among residence at the time of this writing. This is among the state’s highest totals but is unfortunately not surprising for a facility known for substandard staffing.
Indian Oaks is a for-profit corporation operating a facility with 199 beds, providing short and long-term skilled nursing care. But, it’s hard to fathom how that nursing care is delivered, since the facility hardly has enough nurses to go around. According to ratings from Medicare.gov, the federal government website for Medicare information, Indian Oaks rates “much below average” for staffing of registered nurses. Yet, that deficient, one-star rating seems lenient, given the numbers behind it.
Indian Oaks has twice the number of daily residents as the average Texas nursing home, but lags behind when it comes to access to registered nurses. On average, facilities provide one hour and 32 minutes of licensed nurse staff time (Texas) and one hour and 40 minutes of nurse staff time (United States). Indian Oak provides just one hour and nine minutes.
As far as registered nurses go, the Texas facility average is 26 minutes per resident, while the U.S. average is 45 minutes per resident. Indian Oaks clocks in at a paltry nine minutes per resident. That’s one fifth the time of the national average. The physical therapist hours per resident stand at one-quarter the national average. How can a facility even call itself a nursing home when a patient is only allotted nine minutes of a nurse’s time out of a full 24 hours?
It’s no wonder the quality of resident care is lacking, especially for long-term residents. Again, according to Medicare.gov, Indian Oaks scored poorly for the percentage of long-term residents whose ability to move independently worsened, whose need for assistance with daily tasks increased, and who lost too much weight.
Is there a causal relationship between substandard staffing and COVID-19 infection? First, we have to consider where the infection is coming from. Thirty-four employees of Indian Oaks have contracted the virus. Given the restrictions on visitors, it seems likely that an infected employee brought the virus into the facility. This raises the question of how well the facility managed prevention protocols.
Once the virus is present in the facility, how well could the staff have managed with their low nurse to patient ratio? We know that detecting symptoms and reacting quickly is critical to a COVID patient’s treatment and recovery. The numbers do not support the notion of optimal care, because while 43 residents recovered from COVID-19, 25 perished.
Your action is needed to protect your elder loved ones
Nursing home neglect is the scourge of the elderly. Now, in the time of COVID-19, that neglect can go unchecked, because loved ones cannot visit, observe what’s happening, and advocate for their elder’s welfare. If your loved one is being neglected in any way, don’t let government mandates stand in your way. 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.
For more information, visit our nursing home neglect and abuse page. Ready to see if you have a case? Call us: 833.201.1555 or Connect Online.