A License for Neglect.’ Nursing Homes Are Seeking — and Winning — Immunity Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

BY ABIGAIL ABRAMS: For More Info, Go Here…

It was 11 p.m. on a Sunday in early May when Penny Shaw, a 76-year-old in Braintree, Massachusetts, picked up the phone and reported her nursing home to the local police. The staff on duty had just told her they couldn’t provide any of their usual care because they had no personal protection equipment (PPE). Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, the staff is supposed to wear PPE when helping all patients, but only the home’s administrator, who doesn’t work late on weekends, could give it out. So the certified nursing assistants wouldn’t be able to get masks, gloves or gowns until the morning.

Shaw was angry that her facility had put its staff, and her fellow residents, in that position, and so she called the cops. “They always make poor decisions and they continue to make poor decisions,” Shaw says. “I have to speak up for myself and other people.”

Since a nursing home in the Seattle area became one of the first major U.S. coronavirus outbreaks in March, nursing homes’ residents and staff have borne a heavy load of the pandemic’s burden. Deaths in long-term care facilities now make up at least one third of coronavirus fatalities in most states. Nursing home employees have become first responders to a disease whose contours are still unknown, though more than 80,000 Americans have died. But while the U.S. government’s slow and patchy response to the pandemic has made nursing homes’ job harder, so have the problems the industry faced long before COVID-19 erupted.

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