Social distancing and self-imposed quarantine have become the new norm for people around the world. While Americans hunker down to wait out the Coronavirus pandemic, officials scramble for methods to help stop the spread of COVID-19, find desperately needed medical supplies, and procure financial relief. Those who defy stay-at-home orders could find themselves faced with punishments, and at least one Washington nursing home has been fined for its contribution to the crisis.
The Life Care Center in Kirkland, WA, has been fined $611,000 for not taking appropriate action to prevent the spread of the disease. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also warns it may revoke the nursing home’s participation in Medicare and Medicaid programs if action isn’t taken to correct the issues. The facility was fined $13,585 per day for six weeks and have until Sept. 16 to make appropriate corrections.
In March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report that said there were at least 37 Coronavirus deaths linked to the center and that the facility did not report the increased number of their residents who had respiratory infections.
Health officials also found that the Life Care Center did not have enough personal protective equipment or alcohol-based sanitizer. Staff members, it was revealed, continued to work even while showing symptoms and didn’t follow recommendations for protecting their eyes and taking care while working closely with patients.
The long-term care facility has been labeled as the epicenter for the spread of Coronavirus in the state. The earliest reports showed that between eight and nine of the ten known infected people had ties to the nursing home. About 57% of its patients were hospitalized, and nearly two-thirds of the residents and staff were infected. Approximately one in four patients died, while staff members recovered.
This isn’t the first time Life Care Center has come under fire for lacking in disease protective measures. In April of last year, two flu outbreaks that affected 17 staff and residents resulted in a $67,000 fine after health officials found infection-control deficiencies.
Washington had the first known death in the United States caused by Coronavirus, and its number of infected rapidly increased, with the majority being in King County, where the nursing home is located.
Will fining health care centers that didn’t take quick enough action or were lax on protective measures become a trend? The Kirkland facility surely won’t be the only nursing home or medical service to have not responded appropriately, and that may have contributed to the spread of the virus. What about government officials who, in the earliest phases, encouraged their constituents to still go out to dinner or to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?
This unprecedented pandemic that has nearly the whole world on lockdown will have long-reaching effects across the board. From medical practices to voting, the American way of life is drastically changing before our very eyes. In just a few short months, we have seen the impeachment of Donald Trump and the outbreak of COVID-19, which forced us into social distancing, tanked the stock market, and blew up unemployment levels.
Now that officials are starting to hold at least one health care facility responsible for its part in the spread of Coronavirus, will there be more?
Read more from Kelli Ballard.
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