The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly altered the way of life for most people in this country, particularly those who reside in nursing homes. The first major outbreak of this virus in the United States happened in a nursing home in Washington state, and some of the largest fatal outbreaks have happened in other nursing homes throughout the country. As a result of these dangers, the federal government announced new regulatory requirements for nursing homes concerning COVID-19. Read on to learn more about the new nursing home reporting rules as they relate to COVID-19 and if you have any further questions, speak with a knowledgeable Anaheim nursing home abuse lawyer.
Creating Transparency With Regulations
In April 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced new regulatory requirements that require all nursing homes to “inform residents, their families and representatives of COVID-19 cases in their facilities.”
In addition to these requirements, the CMS is also requiring that nursing homes report COVID-19 cases directly to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This information must be reported in accordance with existing privacy statutes and regulations. The CMS is also requiring that nursing homes fully cooperate with the CDC concerning surveillance efforts and contact tracing.
“Nursing homes have been ground zero for COVID-19. Today’s action supports CMS’ longstanding commitment to providing transparent and timely information to residents and their families,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma.
Notifications to residents, family members, and representatives must come within 12 hours of a confirmed case of COVID-19 in a nursing home, even if there is only one case confirmed. In addition, a notification must be given when there are three or more individuals in the nursing home facility who developed respiratory symptoms within a 72-hour period.
Nursing homes must also provide detailed measures that the facility is taking to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 to the CDC.
Failures Led to These Requirements Being Necessary
These reporting requirements handed down by the CMS have come after nursing homes across the country continually failed to adequately prevent and handle COVID-19 outbreaks. Unfortunately, those who reside in nursing homes are particularly vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19. According to the CDC, those aged 65 and over face a higher risk of serious illness or death due to this virus. In addition, COVID-19 particularly affects those with weakened immune systems and those with pre-existing medical conditions such as heart disease, respiratory illnesses, diabetes, and obesity. Residents in nursing homes often have a variety of these underlying conditions.
Several hundred federal medical professionals and National Guard members have come to New Jersey to help the state’s nursing homes as they work to contain the spread of the virus.
Visitation to Nursing Homes
In March 2020, New Jersey suspended visitation to all long-term care facilities in the state, with the exception of visiting those who are at the end of their life. Right now, it is not clear how long nursing home visitations will be limited. However, even when visitations are allowed again, family members and friends will need to be very cautious when they do decide to visit their loved ones. While it is likely that there will be strict requirements concerning visitation, friends and family members should most certainly not go to a nursing home if they feel sick.
If your loved one is in a nursing home facility, you have the right to be notified if someone in the facility contracts COVID-19. The CDC will continue to work closely with the CMS, as well as state and local health departments and nursing homes as this pandemic continues.