Ask Dr John, Esq – Coronavirus and Nursing Homes

nursing home communication challenges with coronavirus
Article by Dr. John Naranja, MD, JD.
The most current numbers for confirmed coronavirus cases is 1,166,083 in the United States. Ground zero for the COVID-19 outbreak was thought to first occur at a nursing home in Kirkland Washington. Even though we now know that the first cases of COVID-19 likely arose from a community in California, nursing homes remain a vulnerable target for this serious pandemic. The elderly are among those at highest risk for COVID-19 infection and mortality.

Based on new data from 29 state health departments, coronavirus deaths in nursing homes have been approximated to 10,700. The real number is likely higher, as many states have refused to release their COVID-19-related data. In some cases, even family members of nursing home residents have not been updated fully regarding their loved ones’ status.

In response, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, an organization responsible for health and safety in nursing homes, has issued its “Upcoming Requirements for Notification of Confirmed COVID-19 Among Residents and Staff in Nursing Homes. More importantly, the Memorandum has emphasized “Transparency,” previewing a new requirement that long-term care facilities notify residents and their representatives about the conditions inside their facility. Specifically, notification would be required within 12 hours of a single confirmed infection of COVID-19. Updates to family members must be provided at least weekly. Reporting would comply with existing privacy regulations.

Dr. John, Esq. is both an attorney and a physician. Before obtaining his law degree, Dr. John Naranja practiced for approximately 12 years as an orthopedic surgeon.
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