As most have read recently, there has been legislation passed in almost every state which essentially gives businesses and adult living facilities a free pass when it comes to Covid-19 liability. This is true in Georgia. In other words, even if a Georgia senior living facility (i.e., nursing home, assisted living facility, old folks home, etc.) is negligent in the way that they handle Covid-19 and one of their residents suffers a serious injury or dies due to the negligence, the injured patient has no recourse and the nursing home will not be subject to a lawsuit. Whether that is right or wrong is certainly up for debate, but it is law, nonetheless.
SavaSenior Care is one of five for-profit nursing home chains targeted in a congressional investigation launched last week to explore the coronavirus crisis in the nation’s long-term care facilities. Sava’s CEO Jerry Roles, was sent a 10-page letter from the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis asking detailed questions about the company’s operations and its handling of the pandemic. The letter was prompted by recent congressional testimony citing lax oversight by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, known as CMS, and the federal government’s failure to provide adequate testing supplies, masks, gowns and other protective equipment.
Sava has 13 nursing homes throughout Georgia, and nearly half of these nursing home facilities have had major Covid-19 outbreaks. According to recent numbers, 76 Sava residents and 42 staff at the home have tested positive and 11 residents have died after being confirmed as having COVID-19. Sava has 13 nursing homes across Georgia, and nearly half have had major outbreaks, according to the AJC. At Roselane Health and Rehabilitation Center in Marietta (which is just outside of Atlanta), 99 residents have tested positive for the coronavirus and 14 died. At Sandy Springs Health and Rehabilitation, 66 have tested positive and 13 have died, according to the Georgia Department of Community Health.
In response to this and similar investigation, nursing homes have complained that they weren’t made a priority by federal and state governments when the pandemic began sweeping the country, leaving them without the tests and PPE they needed to combat the virus. “As long-term care providers have gained access to testing, personal protective equipment, staffing support and other assistance, they have increasingly been better able to respond to this crisis and prevent outbreaks” said Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association. Interesting, there is no reference to the lengthy list of states that have passed laws protecting the nursing homes from liability relating to the corona virus and one has to wonder, is the spread of the corona virus in nursing homes more of an issue because the nursing homes know that they cannot be held liable for their negligence, so long as the illness is Covid-19 related? This should be a part of the investigation to determine if the laws passed to insulate the nursing homes from liability, even if well intentioned, have somehow caused nursing homes to act in a way that is inconsistent with their stated goals of ensuring a safe and healthy environment for the their residents and employees.
Robert J. Fleming is a partner in the law firm of Katz Wright Fleming & Dodson, LLC in Atlanta, Georgia and Decatur, Georgia. He is a personal injury attorney who has been handling wrongful death, nursing home abuse, professional negligence, and premises injury cases for individuals and families who have been severely injured or died as a result of negligence for over 25 years. He practices in the Atlanta, Georgia area including handling lawsuits in Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton, Gwinnett, Cobb counties in Georgia and nearby cities such as Alpharetta, Chamblee, College Park, Conyers, Duluth, Decatur, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Roswell, Sandy Springs, and Stone Mountain. If you or a family member has been seriously injured and would like to discuss your case in complete confidence, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online. We are here to help.