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Nursing homes have reported over 84,000 deaths from outbreaks of COVID-19 nationwide. In recent weeks, a growing number of wrongful death lawsuits have been filed by family members.

UPDATE: COVID Outbreak Hits Vaccinated Patients at Brenham Nursing Home in Texas

In March 2021, at least 17 residents and 6 staff members tested positive for COVID-19 in an outbreak at Focused Care at Brenham, a nursing home in Brenham, Texas. All of the positive residents had received their 1st dose of the vaccine, but it had not been a full 2 weeks to build up immunity.

How Many Nursing Home Residents Have COVID-19 in Texas?

As of October 2020, more than 4,300 Texas nursing home residents have died from COVID-19, which is about 25% of all COVID-19 deaths in Texas, according to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services.

As of October 2020, approximately 84,000 nursing home residents, staff, and long-term care facilities have died from COVID-19 nationwide, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation and the AARP.

Briarcliff Skilled Nursing Facility in Texas Hit With 2nd COVID-19 Death Lawsuit

At least two COVID-19 wrongful death lawsuits were filed against Briarcliff Skilled Nursing Facility in Carthage, Texas after a major outbreak. The second lawsuit was filed on behalf of a 54 year-old employee who died of COVID-19 on April 22. Briarcliff is accused of failing to provide staff with masks or any sort of Personal Protective Equipment.

Emergency Texas COVID-19 Task Force Sent to Nursing Home

An outbreak of COVID-19 among 22 nursing home residents has led the Texas Department of Emergency Management to send a task force to the Cambridge Health and Rehabilitation Center in Richmond, Texas.

How Do Nursing Homes Avoid Deadly COVID-19 Outbreaks?

Nursing homes that acted immediately to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have successfully avoided deadly outbreaks of the virus among residents and staff.

The San Francisco Center for Jewish Living (SFCJL) has over 300 elderly residents — and zero cases of COVID-19.

How did this nursing home stop the virus, when so many other facilities have suffered huge COVID-19 outbreaks with dozens of deaths?

  • Early on, SFCJL  stocked up on Personal protective equipment (PPE) and face for employees, residents, and visitors.
  • SFCJL was one of the first nursing homes to start screening every visitor for COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Teaching employees and residents about the importance of hand-washing and social distancing.
  • All staff and residents are tested for COVID-19 every few weeks.

Big Outbreak of Coronavirus Reported in Texas Nursing Home

A massive outbreak of coronavirus has been reported at a nursing home in Northeast Texas. At least 41 residents and staff tested positive at the Paris Healthcare Nursing Home in Paris, Texas, according to health officials:

Everyone absolutely MUST wear a mask whenever in an enclosed public place such as a grocery store. Everyone must practice social distancing. Everyone must wash their hands frequently. If everyone cooperates, it will make it easier for us to protect our community from this virus.”

What is the Problem?

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Texas, the vast majority of nursing homes in the state were cited for failures in infection-control procedures — most commonly, for not washing their hands.

Now, a growing number of Texas nursing homes are suffering from deadly outbreaks of coronavirus illnesses among residents and employees.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns:

“Given their congregate nature and resident population served (e.g., older adults often with underlying chronic medical conditions), nursing home populations are at the highest risk of being affected by COVID-19.”

Elderly People With Coronavirus May Have Unusual Symptoms

Once coronavirus hits a nursing home, it can spread rapidly. This is because many people who are infected do not show any symptoms. Furthermore, older people may not show typical symptoms like fever or cough. Instead, they may have atypical symptoms, like new or worsening malaise (generally feeling unwell), new dizziness, or diarrhea, according to the CDC.

High Death-Rate for Coronavirus in Older Adults

Early data in the U.S. shows a death-rate from coronavirus at 10-27% for people over the age of 85, followed by a 3-11% risk of death for people between 65 and 84 years old. This data was collected between February 12 and March 16, 2020.

How Nursing Homes Can Prepare for COVID-19

Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities must act immediately to protect residents, family members, and employees from outbreaks of COVID-19.

The basic strategies include recommendations to:

  • Keep COVID-19 from entering the facility
  • Identify infections early
  • Prevent spread of COVID-19
  • Assess supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) and initiate measures to optimize current supply
  • Identify and manage severe illness

Source: Strategies to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 in Long-Term Care Facilities (CDC).

Challenges of COVID-19 Infection Control in Nursing Homes

Nursing homes are accelerator for coronavirus outbreaks because the residents are so vulnerable.

Elderly residents in nursing homes often suffer from underlying health problems like diabetes, heart disease, or cancer. They live in close quarters. They also interact with multiple healthcare employees a day.

Nursing home residents often need high-contact healthcare, such as dressing, bathing/showering, using the toilet, and wound care. It can be nearly impossible for employees to avoid transferring pathogens — particularly when facilities do not have enough N95 masks, face shields, gloves, gowns, and other personal protective equipment.

Employees often work at multiple nursing homes — and if an employee is infected but has no symptoms, they can unknowingly spread coronavirus across locations.

Over 80% of Texas Nursing Homes Cited for Infection-Control Failures

There are over 1,200 licensed nursing homes in Texas and around 93,000 residents. Alarmingly, over 80% of Texas nursing homes have been cited in the last 3 years for poor infection-control procedures, including basic precautions like changing gloves and hand-washing, according to the Texas Tribune.

Texas Nursing Home Employee Dies from COVID-19

In April 2020, a nursing home employee died after contracting COVID-19. He worked at the West Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Austin, Texas for 25 years. Loved ones described him as a healthy 51 year-old with no underlying conditions.

Can I Sue a Nursing Home for Neglect?

Nursing homes have a responsibility to keep elderly adults as safe as possible. It’s not possible to prevent every illness or death, but alarmingly, many Texas nursing homes have a disturbing track-record of failing to take basic precautions to prevent disease.

Nursing Home Negligence Lawsuits for COVID-19

If your loved one was infected with COVID-19 at a nursing home in Texas, or died of coronavirus, you may be able to seek justice. Our lawyers may be able to help you hold the nursing home responsible for your loved one’s illness or death due to neglect and negligence.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits for COVID-19 in Nursing Homes

Wrongful death lawsuits have already been filed against nursing homes where patients died of COVID-19. One of the first lawsuits was filed against the Life Care Center of Kirkland, Washington, an early hotspot of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.

1st Nursing Home Hit With Coronavirus Death Lawsuit

In April 2020, the daughter of Twila J. Morin, a woman who died of suspected COVID-19 in early March, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the nursing home where she died — the Life Care Center of Kirkland, where more than 129 infections and 37 deaths have been reported.

The Tragedy of COVID-19 Outbreaks in Nursing Homes

COVID-19 infections in nursing homes are extremely tragic. In many cases, the victim is quarantined and dies alone, or suffers through a terrifying near-death illness with caregivers in full protective gear.

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