COVID-19 is particularly concerning for the elderly if they are living in long-term care facilities. These places present an increased level of danger for this population because health care workers are taking care of several people as they move from one room to the other. The fact that these people remain in one place makes this situation even more difficult for our healthcare professionals to manage.
According to the New York Times, long-term care facilities have only had 8% of the COVID-19 cases, but the fatalities related to this disease come to more than one-third of the total deaths in the United States. The residents of these facilities and the people who work there account for more than 50% of the fatalities that we have had in just 14 states.
Although the New York Times stated the above mentioned statistics, it believes that those numbers are lower than the actual numbers. This is because each facility reports fatalities in its own way. For example, some facilities are only reporting the number of COVID-19 cases and not the fatalities.
Long-term care facilities placed restrictions on the ways in which residents and workers can interact with each other on March 13, 2020. For example, residents have not been able to visit with relatives in communal areas. Residents are not being treated to any communal activities either. These facilities may begin to ease these restrictions if they can demonstrate evidence that infection rates have decreased. For example, residents would be able to meet with social distancing procedures in place, but it isn’t clear when this will be at the time of writing.
The medical community states that it is important to begin testing people for the coronavirus, but an expert quoted in the Wall Street Journal stated that a test will not be available for at least four to six months. Speedy tests that are currently in use are providing health care workers with a false negative rate of between 15% and 30%. That means that a lot of people had a test and believe that they are not infected with the virus, but they may be infecting others right now. That’s why it’s important that we continue to exercise caution and do everything possible to protect our elderly communities living in long-term care facilities while we wait on improved testing procedures to be readily available.
CMS does not appear to have a date in mind when it can lift the current restrictions on long-term care facilities, so the continuing concern must be to make sure that our seniors are safe. This is unfortunate because they have been isolated from their families for months, so most residents are extremely unhappy about this situation we’re all living through right now.
If your loved one is in a long-term care facility and he or she needs assistance from an Elder Law Attorney, there’s no need to wait for these isolation measures to be lifted though. Thanks to technology, many legal matters can now be handled remotely and many lawyers are offering consultation by phone or teleconference now. At Moses PC, we practice elder law and can ensure that a lawyer will help your loved one address any pending matters like estate planning or setting up a living will. If you are concerned that your loved one isn’t being treated properly in his or her long-term care facility, we can also help you seek justice and intervene to get them to safety. Finally, we can also provide help in the event that you need to make arrangements for a guardianship or a conservatorship plan for your loved one. Give us a call today – (205) 967-0901.