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Florida Agency for Health Care Administration Sends Strike Teams to Nursing Homes to Prevent Spread of Coronavirus

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It is normal to worry about your elderly relatives when they first enter a nursing home, especially if they are so ill that they cannot tell you in detail how they are feeling or what kind of care they are receiving.  While they are bound by rules about patient privacy, information about complaints against nursing homes is publicly available.  Every residential facility that provides nursing care or assisted living services for adults is subject to frequent inspections by state agencies.  Infection control is one of the most important things inspectors look for, as well as nursing staff to patient ratios.  If you are healthy enough to live on your own now, you should count your blessings, but you should still think about the future.  As scary as it is to think about now that the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak threatens to put unprecedented stress on Florida’s healthcare system, the time to talk to a Florida attorney about nursing home planning is sooner rather than later.

Florida Elder Care Facilities and the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic

More than 100 cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 have been reported in Florida.  Nineteen of those cases are in patients residing in elder care facilities; this is especially worrisome, because elderly people and patients with underlying illnesses are at increased risk of developing serious complications because of the virus and needing hospitalization.  Because of laws about patient privacy, the media have not reported the names or locations of the facilities where residents have tested positive for COVID-19, but Politico has reported that at least one of the affected nursing homes is in Broward County and at least one is in Duval County.

Mary Mayhew, the Secretary of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, said that the agency has sent a strike team to each of the affected nursing homes to help with emergency measures related to infection control.  Each team will include an epidemiologist, an infectious disease specialist, a nurse, and a specially trained state facility surveyor.  Mayhew said that a specific danger faced by nursing homes now is that, since people in nursing homes, by nature, have chronic medical conditions, patients who reside in nursing homes have more frequent hospitalizations than the general population.  Hospitals are well equipped to prevent the spread of COVID-19, keeping suspected COVID-19 patients and isolation rooms and providing protective gear for hospital employees who treat them.  Nursing homes, however, do not have this level of infection control, which is why the whole nursing home is at risk when a patient is released from the hospital and returns to the nursing home.  She encouraged nursing homes to call the agency’s 24-hour hotline whenever they suspect that a patient has COVID-19.

Contact an Attorney Today for Help

Nursing home planning is about thinking clearly about your medical needs before they arise.  Do not wait until there is a crisis to think about your wishes regarding elder care for yourself or your family.  Contact Clearwater nursing home planning attorney William Rambaum to discuss your questions.

Resource:

politico.com/states/florida/story/2020/03/18/coronavirus-surfaces-in-19-elder-care-facilities-in-florida-1267712

https://www.rambaumlaw.com/florida-family-announces-plans-to-sue-nursing-home-that-attempted-to-mask-odor-of-patients-bedsores-with-coffee-grounds/

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