Protecting Loved Ones in Nursing Homes During COVID-19

If you have loved ones who are residents of a nursing home or assisted living facility, the COVID-19 crisis could be causing you and your family to worry. Nursing home facility residents are some of the most vulnerable to the coronavirus and the current information on the outbreak may be limited. Since visitation has been cut off, checking in on your loved ones has become more difficult. However, you are still entitled to know the health and safety status of your loved one.

Some regulations have been created to allow better communication between providers, families, and patients. The Department of Health and Human Services has given discretion to covered healthcare providers in using telehealth technology in regard to HIPAA and its regulations. Providers acting in good faith when using telecommunication for medical purposes will not be punished for doing so, even if it technically violates HIPAA as it stands.

During this public health crisis, you should still be receiving updates about your loved one and their health.  While communications may have been more or less regulated in the past, the public health emergency could temporarily affect or change how you receive updates. Be sure to get in touch with the facility and ask how you could be receiving information regarding your family member differently during COVID-19.

Additionally, nursing homes are known for having poor infection control and should be held to a higher standard of responsibility to protect residents from the spread of the coronavirus. In recent years, 75% of nursing homes were cited for not complying with necessary infection control measures in the U.S. During a public health emergency such as the coronavirus, it is vital that the facilities follow every guideline and are prepared to put new regulations in place, if necessary. If they do not prepare for this situation by purchasing personal protective equipment, such as masks, gloves, and gowns, these facilities are breaching the duty of care owed to their residents and your loved ones.

Even though you are unable to visit your loved ones given the safety concerns, you should still be up to date on their care and health status. If you have concerns about a loved one and you are not getting answers from their nursing home, contact Domnick, Cunningham & Whalen today. We are here to help.