A new report by New York Attorney General Letitia James’s office found that some nursing home facilities in the state had inadequate personal protective equipment at the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic, putting their residents at increased risk of harm.
The report, released last week, notes that both state and federal laws mandate that nursing homes provide adequate infection control supplies to their staff and residents in order to protect them from the risk of contracting or spreading diseases like Covid-19. The Attorney General’s office found that some nursing homes failed to comply with these requirements, and that if these failures had not taken place, New York’s nursing homes may have experienced “better health outcomes” for their residents.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the Attorney General’s office received numerous reports of nursing homes in New York with inadequate PPE, including allegations that shortages of equipment resulted in nursing homes violating “basic infection control practices by requiring staff to re-use PPE or to clean used PPE.” One report described by the report involved a for-profit nursing home in Western new York in which “there was a lack of PPE for staff use until the first resident with suspected COVID-19 went to the hospital, and that an LPN at the facility was allegedly forced to resign after she questioned inadequate PPE policies and refused to work under conditions where staff and residents would not be safe.”
In April 2020, other employees at that nursing home alleged to the Attorney General’s office that they were “forced to share gowns,” and that the facility flouted CDC guidelines and basic infection control practices by allowing communal dining “until the first resident went to the hospital in late March.” A Licensed Professional Nurse at that facility told the Attorney General’s Office that “she cared for a COVID-19 positive resident with only sanitizer and gloves because that was all that was available at the time and facility management told her and other staff members that they would have to make do with what they had.”
At another for-profit nursing home in Western New York, according to the report, a nurse manager alleged that the facility’s owner told employees “not to wear masks and that it would be ‘business as usual’ because the facility did not have sufficient PPE.” When this nurse manager tried to obtain PPE from state authorities, she told the Attorney General’s office, “her decisions were continually undermined by ownership,” which allegedly reversed her efforts to end communal dining at the facility. A Certified Nursing Assistant at that same facility reported to the Attorney General’s office that “masks were optional” at the nursing home even after it ended visitation; the CNA added that “there was no quarantining of residents until weeks into the pandemic.” According to the report, the facilities in question now have adequate PPE supplies and are “appropriately distributing PPE to staff.”
More information about alleged nursing home failures during the Covid-19 pandemic is available via the Attorney General’s office.
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC work diligently to protect the rights of nursing home residents. Please contact us to discuss in the event you have a potential case involving neglect or abuse.