Covid-19 Nursing Home

Nursing Homes Want Immunity From Lawsuits Relating To Covid-19

Covid-19 has taken over the entire world, and it’s hitting the hardest in places that need to have close-corridor living. This is why the world sent home all student’s from college when this began, sharing a room is the opposite of what anyone should be doing right now; if they have the choice. This means that the virus-related death toll in places like nursing homes is exponentially greater than what it is for individuals able to live in their own homes, protected from the outside world. 

In the US specifically there have been around 12,000 deaths within the country’s nursing homes alone. As that death toll keeps climbing, these facilities are pushing the state governments that they reside in to provide them with legal immunity from lawsuits directed at the owners/employees of these homes. America has about 15,600 nursing homes for context. 

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There have been six states so far that have granted their nursing home facilities complete immunity from coronavirus-related lawsuits, and six other states have begun enforcing legal protection policies as well for health care providers exclusively. It’s been quite the debate, however, as many individuals with loved ones in nursing homes don’t want these facilities to avoid being held accountable for any sort of neglect that they can pass off as “coronavirus-related.” 

“Most staff in nursing homes are doing the very best they can, under horrendous circumstances. But the combination of fewer rules, no family, no ombudsmen, no surveyors, no enforcement, more money and now industry efforts to get immunity from civil and criminal liability for anything related to coronavirus is a lethal combination in the hands of unscrupulous people,” said Toby Edelman, senior policy attorney for the Center for Medicare Advocacy, a group that advocates for nursing home residents.

Virginia, for example, is a state that already had legal provisions put in place for a pandemic situation such as this. Virginia has a policy known as “civil liability immunity” for all health care workers during emergencies. It’s difficult, however, to determine if these protections cover nursing homes as well because many states don’t consider these facilities to be “health care” related, legally speaking. 

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Massachusetts and New York, two states that have also recently passed health care protection legislation, made sure to include policies that explicitly immunized nursing homes from lawsuits related to Covid-19. Beyond them, Connecticut, Georgia, Michigan, and New Jersey also created immunization policies specifically for nursing home workers. 

The “six other states that have begun enforcing legal protection policies” for health care workers haven’t distinguished if nursing homes are included in those protections. In Illinois and Arizona, for example, the executive orders that have been signed in the recent weeks do not specifically list nursing homes as a facility that’s protected from coronavirus-related lawsuits.

Louisiana, Wisconsin, and Kentucky also passed legal immunization for health care providers, but never mentioned nursing homes in the actual policy. Indiana has also passed a skeptical policy, however, they’re law grants “immunity to any facility that provides health care services by a [licensed] professional” in response to the COVID-19 emergency.

While it’s unclear as to whether some states will protect nursing home workers/facilities from Covid-19 related lawsuits, we do know that we have to keep all health care providers in our thoughts during this very difficult time. As Indiana stated, any facility that provides health care services by a professional, deserves all the resources and protections our government can provide during a pandemic, so let’s give it to them.