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The Missouri Miner

Missouri S&T's Student Newspaper
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EST. 1915

Nursing Homes Violating Federal Health Standards

There are more than 88,000 COVID-19 related deaths and almost 1.5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States alone, according to the Johns Hopkins University Data Dashboard. Globally, the virus has killed more than 312,000 people and has infected more than 4.6 million. Over the past six weeks, as the nationwide death toll among the elderly reached new heights, government inspectors discovered breakdowns in infection control and prevention at nine Life Care nursing homes that had COVID-19 inspections proctored by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. That does not include shortcomings found at the Life Care Center of Kirkland, Washington, which endured the country’s first reported COVID-19 outbreak in February.

Inspection reports show the nursing homes operated by Life Care Centers of America, one of the largest chains in the industry, violated federal standards meant to stop the spread of infections and contagious illnesses even after COVID-19 infections and deaths began to overtake their facilities. After the early outbreak at the Life Care facility in Kirkland, inspectors found the facility didn’t properly treat sick patients or alert authorities to potential coronavirus cases. The state banned the home from bringing in clients until they rectified their treatment and reporting procedures and required them to train staff in managing infectious diseases. To critics, the size of the COVID-19 outbreaks at Life Care Centers shows the large flaws in their treatment of patients and management of the company which preceded the coronavirus pandemic. Such flaws have been logged for years in lawsuits by families, former employees, and federal prosecutors. The lawsuits described a company consumed by staffing shortages and compromised care, short-comings that critics say probably worsened as COVID-19 infected hundreds of caregivers and residents. Families, former staff, and current employees say that Life Care, after operating for many years and reflecting intense scrutiny, should have done much more to protect their patients and staff as the pandemic grew.

Since the outbreak in Kirkland, the private company with over 200 nursing homes has had at least 2,000 cases and 250 deaths amid residents and employees, according to a Post report and inspection of local data. Five Life Care nursing homes have reported outbreaks of more than 100 cases. Beecher Hunter, the president of Life Care Centers of America, stated, “My promise is that our facility will be a model of cooperation and communication,” he said. “This is a learning experience for all of us. We regard the protection, the care, and the love for our residents as a sacred trust. Their well-being is our highest priority. And we will make every effort to comply with all public health requirements.” Hunter ensures that the company is doing its best to make sure a high standard of care for their patients is met and that all employees are giving 100% for the residents. “Life Care Centers of America and its affiliated facilities are not perfect; no organization is because it is made up of people, and people are imperfect human beings,” Hunter said in an email to The Post. “. . . Our healthcare heroes will from time to time unfortunately fall below our standards for resident care.”

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Article By Alyssa Crum


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