Nursing home operators should brace themselves for the possibility of a coronavirus outbreak after four deaths from the virus were linked to a Washington state nursing home. Nursing homes are a dual risk for the virus, called Covid-19, as both close living quarters and older age increase the risk of infection and risk of severity. Also at heightened concern are patients with underlying health conditions, which nursing home residents often have.
Washington state has been hit particularly hard with six deaths linked to the coronavirus, which have been traced back to the Life Care Center in Kirkland. Several residents and at least one health care worker at the facility have also been hospitalized. Of the 108 residents and 180 staff members at the facility, more than 50 have shown signs of possible Covid-19 infection, according to CNN.
“Current residents and associates are being monitored closely, and any with symptoms or who were potentially exposed are quarantined,” said Ellie Basham, executive director of Life Care Center.
Dr. Jeff Duchin, health office for the Seattle and King County public health agency, said, “We are very concerned about an outbreak in a setting where there are many older people.”
The news prompted Louisiana nursing home operators to take a proactive approach, including hospital system LCMC Health in New Orleans, which operates the retirement community Woldenberg Village. The first step, said Dr. John Heaton, president of clinical and systems operations, is to move those infected with Covid-19 out of the facility and to a hospital where they can be better treated for their symptoms.
LCMC has more than 150 negative-pressure rooms, which are isolation areas that prevent cross-contamination from room to room. Patients with confirmed Covid-19 are moved into such rooms.
The coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China. More than 80,000 of the 90,000-plus people who have become infected are in China. The virus has an overall 2% fatality rate, but that rate jumps to 8% among people ages 70 to 79, and 15% among those 80 years of age and older.
However, health officials caution that the fatality rate may be lower, as many mild case may have gone unreported. About 80% of cases are mild, similar to that of the common cold or flu.
Alyssa Baskam, who works in Beasley Allen’s Atlanta office, represents individuals who have been injured or the families of those who have died as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect, or other inpatient facility abuse or neglect. She would be happy to talk with you about any potential claim.