The first deaths that were recorded in the state of South Carolina from the coronavirus outbreak appear to have been at nursing homes. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control reported that the Lexington Medical Center facility was the state’s first home to have a patient that died from the virus.
Local residents demand to know about conditions inside of nursing homes
There were concerns about the relative silence after this early report that poor conditions and additional deaths at homes in the state. Some believe fatalities may have not been reported accurately due to concerns about additional scrutiny being placed on the homes. Just under 200 nursing homes were operating in the state at the time the pandemic began, but deaths are being reported as statewide totals, with little to no additional information being provided to the public about the conditions in nursing homes.
The department has a policy that prevents the public from learning specific information about cases and deaths in nursing homes. This was initially done out of general privacy concerns, but it seems that the same policy can also cover up abuse happening within the facilities during the pandemic. A civil lawsuit filed in Richland County is asking the local government to force the department to release the names of all facilities where cases of COVID-19 have been reported.
Three county coroners have already shared information with the local news about virus deaths. They have confirmed that residents of nursing homes have died in Richland, Lexington, and Clarendon counties. They disclosed that seven total deaths in nursing homes in those counties have been officially recorded, but there are concerns that there may be even more. At the time of the report, about 130 deaths had been attributed to the virus statewide in approximately a month.
The state’s AARP claims that the names of the homes that are experiencing illness and death related to the virus is of great public importance during the pandemic, and should be released. National estimates show that at least 2000 nursing home patients died around the country from coronavirus complications over the span of several weeks.
Making sure nursing homes are accountable
Nursing homes are places where illness and public health issues tend to be amplified. It is common for infections and viruses to spread quickly in these facilities, and a national pandemic creates a perfect storm of conditions that put elderly people in these homes at high risk. If a facility does not take adequate precautions and neglects or abuses those under their care, they can be targeted with a civil lawsuit.
Get help after a nursing home incident
Attorneys who focus their practice on nursing home abuse and neglect are available to assist you. To speak with a firm that serves that Columbia area and nearby parts of South Carolina, contact:
1116 Blanding St., #3A, Columbia, SC 29201