• John & Terri Hale

Reader Q & A

Q. How do nursing homes balance the need to reopen during the pandemic with the fear of being sued? As a front-line long-term care nurse, I fear that residents will be separated from family for even longer if facilities fear repercussions from COVID coming in from a visitor.

A. We agree -- finding a balance is key.

We are not attorneys and we wouldn't want our views to be interpreted as such.

We simply believe that residents always deserve a day in court; that if they feel that they have been served unsatisfactorily, they can speak with an attorney and weigh whether the courts should be utilized to address their dissatisfaction.

We are NOT anti-nursing home. We consistently applaud the many good facilities that are led and managed well.

We believe facilities that do their best to follow proper COVID-19 protocols need not be afraid of a lawsuit. If they follow all guidelines related to re-opening; take precautions regarding testing, visitor screening and use of PPE; seek out and listen to residents, family members and staff about their concerns; monitor their facility's situation and make adjustments as needed; etc. they can be comfortable knowing that they've done their job. 

Our concerns focus on the facilities that have not been well led or managed.

Negligent facilities should be concerned about resident reactions and be held accountable for their actions or inaction. 

We realize that these are trying times for facilities, their leadership and staff, AND for the residents being served. Balancing competing demands is a daily challenge in the best of times, and is particularly so during a pandemic.

But it's the trying times that separate the good facilities from the bad and point out why accountability should always be a given. If accountability for performance disappears, then the bad facilities will have few if any incentives to ever improve. 

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