Why Nursing Homes' COVID-19 Legal Shields May Interfere With Other Cases


You listen to podcasts. In twenty seven states nursing homes have gotten special legal protections during the covid nineteen pandemic that means in most cases families can't sue if someone they love got sick or died at one the nursing home say they're doing the best they can and they need those legal shields but that also may stop people whose injuries have nothing to do with covid from seeking justice in the courts. Noel talked with. Npr's jaffe been looking into this. Why were these laws passed in the first place. You remember that. The corona virus outbreak started as far as most people were aware in a nursing home and currently long term care facilities account for more than a third of all deaths from covid nineteen nursing homes were caught scrambling for personal protective equipment. They were shifting recommendations of how contagious disease was and the industry made a case that they shouldn't be held responsible for dealing with this moving target. Are there any lawsuits pending against nursing homes relating to covid or did these immunity laws. Basically finish them off. While there is one in durham north carolina. It's questioned whether it's related to covid. Possibly it's the first of its kind involves the death of a woman named palestine house. Her daughter lisa set her. Mother's death had nothing to do with corona virus. Her mother had a pressure ulcer or bedsores there commonly known she'd had it since december of twenty eighteen and it just got worse. It became infected. Lisa how said she begged traber and rehabilitation center. Send her mother to the emergency room but they assured us that they could handle it. Lisa house and her three sisters had their doubts and their experience traber and rehabilitation center. Didn't seem to be able to handle much on a scale of one to five stars. The federal government gives traber and just one it also gets below average ratings on the ratio of nurses to residence. The government has find traber. Almost one hundred ninety thousand dollars in the past three years. We were there a lot and we found ourselves having to bathe her just general things they were supposed to do. We'd come in several times when she hadn't been fed her just sitting there. The house sisters hadn't had a lot of luck with nursing homes. In general trae burn was the third one they tried. It was close to where they live so the sisters could visit often but it hardly mattered. One families were locked out of nursing homes in march. Everything got harder and took longer. Palestine house needed specialists in wound care and iv antibiotics. Lisa house had her mother's power of attorney again. She begged trae burn rehabilitation to send her mother to the emergency room where they could find the specialists. She needed again. She was turned down their excuses. Were well the hospitals not taking new patients because of covert and she would be safer she stayed here and the facility is equipped to take care of your mother and none of those things turned out to be true. Palestine house died a train rehabilitation center on april fourteenth. Twenty twenty one month later. North carolina passed a sweeping liability shield for long term care facilities. The nursing homes with rare exceptions were immune from lawsuits. The measure was made retroactive to march tenth. Lisa house and her sisters decided to suit rayburn. Anyway elizabeth todd is their attorney. Palestine house did not have to die in that way or at that time and for the legislature to say that the nursing homes need protection in the middle of a pandemic not the nursing. Home patients is outrageous and it's unjust north carolina's immunity law lasts until the pandemic is over. Todd is especially worried that the law gives the free past nursing homes with low staffing trayvon and so literally the nursing homes can take their own understaffing their chronic understaffing and use it as a shield to prevent any liability at all during the covid pandemic through their attorneys train. Rehabilitation center declined comment but for many in the long term care industry. These immunity measures are welcome. Relief says dave voelpel. Ceo of the zona healthcare association. Arizona governor doug ducey was among the first to sign an executive order granting nursing homes and assisted living facilities legal immunity and for that we apart him. Because that just takes a little bit of pressure off. Though paul says it allows facilities to focus on what's most important we need to worry about. Keeping covert out of the building that sometimes that cuts into the bottom line says bubble take for instance one hundred bed building and they really have fifty rooms two beds per room that to keep infection from spreading those double rooms may have to be converted to private rooms. So revenue is cut in half. It really takes its toll on the business side of the ledger. Long term care facilities face a crisis if existential proportions says mark reagan the attorney for the california association of health facilities that's because liability insurance are excluding things covert when they renew policies which would mean that any claims made regarding covert infection would be subject to exclusion and no insurance coverage congressional. Republicans wanted a national immunity law but dropped as part of the deal for the latest coronavirus. Relief package reagan. Still has hopes what we're merely asking for is stats caregivers. And their employers. Don't get punished for doing the best that they could. Under the circumstances. I imagine that the family of palestine house doesn't in fact the nursing home was doing the best it could for their mother. Well right there attorney. Elizabeth todd points out that one of north carolina's immunity criteria is that facility must be acting in good faith and she doesn't see how can argue that they did that. So where does

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