Understaffing has always been a problem in nursing homes across the country, and Alabama is no different. The pandemic has made the situation worse, with thousands of nursing home residents losing their lives due to the ongoing health crisis. However, it is not only the pandemic that has caused fatalities in nursing homes—experts claims tens of thousands more have died silent unrelated deaths because staff shortages have led to neglect.
Failure to thrive
According to one expert, for every two patients affected by the novel virus in long-term care, there is one who has died of other causes. These excess deaths may amount to more than 40,000 over the last year, about 15% more than what nursing homes expect.
As the virus surged through nursing homes, experts found that the number of deaths caused by other reasons also increased. These include deaths caused not only by neglect but also by mental decline due to isolation. This was listed as ‘failure to thrive’ on death certificates.
Staff shortages remain a chronic problem for nursing homes, but the pandemic exacerbated things. not only were residents becoming sick, workers were also becoming sick. Some nursing homes were even forced to evacuate.
As lockdowns were enforced, family members could no longer visit. This meant staff also lost out on crucial help loved ones providing in changing clothes, showers, feedings and checking in on residents. While thousands died from the virus, thousands more died from dehydration, malnutrition, and heat exposure. When family was able to come back in to visit nursing home residents, they found their banal conditions had been ignored to the extent they became deadly.
While the last year has proven to be unbearably difficult, it has highlighted the inefficiencies in an already burdened system. Nursing home shortages persist all year and if understaffing leads to neglect and abuse, it might be possible to hold a nursing home accountable for its behavior. An experienced attorney might be able to discuss one’s legal options with them.