The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) appears to be eager to get back to business as usual in the midst of a pandemic that is killing a disproportionate number of its nursing home residents. The Wall Street Journal reports that the CMS is already drafting guidelines to reopen nursing homes to visitors. Even if done with the utmost care, such a move would be opening the floodgates for infected visitors to transmit the virus to vulnerable residents and staff or to become infected themselves.
“Inside a nursing home is about the most dangerous place you can be in terms of COVID-19,” said Leah Barron, a founding partner at Brown & Barron, a law firm specializing in the rights of nursing home residents. “The only thing that could make this horrendous situation worse would be to allow a steady stream of potentially contagious visitors.”
The guidelines are in the drafting stage with no clear timeline set for when official guidelines will be released by the CMS. When finalized, they will cancel and replace the visitor restrictions the CMS set on March 13. Early reactions to the draft guidelines suggest the ultimate rules for reopening to visitors will be left for the state and individual facilities. The grossly premature timing suggests that the Trump Administration wants to include nursing homes in its politically motivated push for “reopening” the country. By doing so, it would be putting countless elderly lives at risk while passing the buck to the states for whatever deaths occur.
“We still don’t have a full accounting on the impact of COVID-19 in nursing homes. They need testing. They need PPE. They need manpower,” said Brian Brown, a founding partner of Brown & Barron. “The CMS should be discussing a plan for these vital needs before they discuss anything beyond that.”
Our attorneys at Brown & Barron, LLC focus on representing nursing home residents who have been neglected or abused. We know first-hand how these facilities function, and just how vulnerable residents are to injuries. If you believe you or a family member has suffered as a result of nursing home negligence, we invite you to contact our team as soon as possible to learn more about your rights and options.