With the actual arrival of a coronavirus vaccine now just days away, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar stated on CBS’ Face The Nation today that “all” nursing home residents could receive vaccinations by Christmas.
Because I’ve received so many requests for help and legal representation by the families of Covid-infected Massachusetts nursing home residents, I’m heartened to hear this – but skeptical of the timeframe offered. As almost any knows after ten months of this pandemic infecting every aspect of life in this country, this virus affects primarily the elderly (i.e., over 72 years old) and the those that are immunocompromised. People who are residents of nursing homes and rehabilitation centers are acutely vulnerable, because they are old, weak, and because viruses and bacteria are rampant in these environments.
The fact that Governor Baker decided to provide legal immunities to Massachusetts nursing homes and Massachusetts rehabilitation facilities was, in my opinion as a Massachusetts nursing home neglect attorney, ill-advised and counter-productive. While hospitals and the nursing home industry prevailed in that fight, it was, both legally and socially, an awful decision. One needn’t be an attorney to realize why: Think about it: Health care facilities such nursing homes and assisted living facilities have always been, even under “normal” circumstances when they can be sued for negligence, known as places where patient neglect and abuse can be commonplace. Shielding them from most negligence suits during a pandemic – a time when they should be at the height of vigilance about patient care in those facilities – is the height of folly. This legal immunity was provided on top of all visitors to Massachusetts nursing homes and assisted living facilities being banned from entering these facilities since last March – including family members. The result? Families of nursing homes have been blind about how their loved ones are being treated.