Most of the United States are dealing with increased deaths due to COVID-19 in nursing homes and long term care residential facilities.  As of April 10, Hawaii had still managed to keep this vulnerable population safe from a disease that has rapid growth potential among elder people, those with weakened immune systems and chronic health conditions that require them to live in assisted care facilities. COVID-19 recently evolved from a virus spread among certain species of animals to a virus that can take host in humans and spread through coughing, sneezing and close contact between people.

Deter disease spread.

Nursing home administrators in Hawaii took swift action to avoid sickness in their facilities after they saw the increase in COVID-19 spread through U.S. mainland states.  Actions by The Plaza facilities in Kaneohe, Mililani, Moanalua, Pearl City, Punchbowl and Waikiki to screen visitors at the end of January and cut down on visiting hours until completely eliminating them may be a contributing factor to limiting spread at those facilities. They and other facilities follow Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggested measures along with federal and state guidelines for nursing homes, specific to isolation precaution protocols.

Other measures include daily temperature checks of employees. If there is a remote chance of illness, they are sent home.  During work shifts, free meals for employees are being provided at some facilities to reduce staff exposure from leaving a residence for meals, along with providing in-house market shopping to reduce staffers exposure going to stores.  At some facilities, if a resident leaves the long term care community for any non-essential reason, a 14-day quarantine in their apartment is mandatory upon their return.

Mental health of patients.

Isolation is a form of nursing home abuse, but safety of physical health is paramount.  To address this component of elder health and care, nursing and administrative staff have been assisting residents with remote visitation through computer applications such as Skype and FaceTime.

Duty of care.

A duty of care is owed to Hawaii nursing home residents in accordance with state and federal laws defining Nursing home abuse revealed in acts of negligence that cause, or exacerbate existing health conditions or place residents in danger. Deviations from nursing home standards of care, and standard operating isolation procedure policies may be considered breaches in duty of care resulting in unintentional negligence.  Contact a personal injury attorney who specializes in nursing home laws to answer any questions you have concerning COVID-19 negative impacts.

 Wrongful death.

If a situation arises out of a COVID-19 infection resulting in death in a Hawaiian nursing home then a wrongful death action may be initiated if a person’s death was directly caused by neglect, or carelessness of nursing home personnel which must be proven. State and federal laws outlines specific actions to take when infected residents should be isolated away from healthy residents.

Sources.

Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) of 198717th

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