The federal government will now require all U.S. nursing homes to disclose to residents and their families if staff or any other residents have contracted the coronavirus according to NPR.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) says notification must come within the first 12 hours of a confirmed coronavirus case in a skilled nursing facility. Residents and families must be told when three or more individuals develop respiratory symptoms within a 72-hour period.
In addition, nursing homes must report all COVID-19 cases directly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as the agency creates a nationwide database of infection rates.
John Dalli, a partner in the law firm Dalli & Marino, LLP, says facilities’ prior lack of disclosure while thousands of nursing home residents were at risk was improper and possibly in violation of their rights.
“Not sharing this vital information with residents and their families is unacceptable,” he says. “If you are the healthcare proxy or next-of-kin for a nursing home resident, you are entitled to information about your loved one including their current health status and whether that person has contracted the virus,” says Dalli.
Although the federal timeline for these disclosures is still unannounced, Dalli advises trying to communicate daily now with any facility staff member if you have a family member there. Don’t be shy about using a staff member’s cell phone number. Try to establish a regular time to call for updates about your loved one.
“Connect with a doctor, a nurse, or an administrator – anyone who can share what’s going on inside with your loved one. It’s important to also document your attempts to reach out as well.”
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Copyright © 2020, NPR. Image Nam Y. Huh/AP.
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