Nursing Homes and COVID-19 Outbreaks

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COVID-19 is an equal opportunist with little regard for age, gender, and national origin, as the numbers of those infected around the world continue to climb. Even so, international health organizations and governments alike continue to focus efforts on protecting those most at risk of contracting this dangerous disease, which includes those with underlying health conditions and the elderly, by attempting to limit large groups through shelter-in-place orders. 

Higher COVID Risk for the Elderly

For many, this is a time of quarantine and working from home, but for our chronically ill and elderly populations in long-term care or nursing homes, there are limited options when it comes to shelter in place. Many in this population require around-the-clock care and supervision by medical professionals who must travel to and from these long-term care homes every day, which, absent proper safety policies, procedures, and protocols, potentially increases the chance of exposure to COVID-19 for these high-risk populations. This is all the more dangerous due to the worldwide shortage of personal protective equipment for our medical professionals meant to help stop the spread of COVID-19. 

In Illinois, long-term care and nursing home residents are protected from certain harms by the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, given the population’s high risk for abuse and exploitation, generally. Violations of the Illinois Nursing Home Car Act may result in liability and monetary damages owed to the resident or their heirs. Given the higher risk of contracting COVID-19 for the populations of these facilities, family members and friends need to communicate with their loved ones often. 

Healthcare Groups Requesting Immunity From Claims

Disturbingly, the Florida Healthcare Association, an advocacy group for long-term care providers in Florida, just this month sent a letter to Florida’s Governor, Ron DeSantis, requesting “immunity from any liability, civil or criminal” related to COVID-19. This is a calculated move by just one group in Florida, anticipating a flood of claims following this pandemic to protect its members’ bottom lines. However, this Florida organization was merely the first reported to make such a request, and it is highly likely other organizations around the country have already, or will soon, make similar requests in anticipation of the COVID-19 fallout in the coming months.

COVID-19 and Illinois Law

Under current Illinois law, if it is discovered that COVID-19 was contracted by a resident of a long-term care or nursing home facility due to its negligent care and treatment of its residents, and resulting in substantial injury or death, the nursing care facility may be liable for certain damages such as medical bills, pain and suffering, loss of a normal life, and disability. If, however, the deep-pocketed lobbyists of the country, such as the “Florida Healthcare Associations,” are successful in obtaining immunity for the caretakers of our most at-risk populations, there will be no such recourse. 

Contact an Experienced Chicago Attorney

If you or a loved one is a resident of a long-term care facility or nursing home and are diagnosed with COVID-19, resulting in substantial injury or death, contact our nursing home attorneys to explore your rights and potential compensation under Illinois law.

We can determine the type of claim you need to file and then guide you through the process. Call us today at (312) 766-1000, email us at [email protected], or contact us online through our website to schedule your free case evaluation.

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