On Wednesday, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis released new evidence of poor conditions at for-profit nursing homes during the pandemic. The documents and evidence were uncovered through the ongoing investigation into five for-profit nursing home chains that operated over 850 nursing homes as of June 2020. Each had significant coronavirus outbreaks across their facilities.
“More than 200,000 Americans living in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have died from the Coronavirus,” said Chairperson Rep. James E. Clyburn in his opening statement at yesterday’s hearing, “Examining Long-Term Care in America: The Impact of the Coronavirus in Nursing Homes.”
“These reports illustrate the horrors faced by nursing home residents and staff nationwide at the start of the pandemic,” according to the Subcommittee.
One anonymous nursing home worker reported that when the nursing home’s administrator “was asked about the confirmed cases of the coronavirus at the facility, he denied that anyone had been diagnosed with the coronavirus,” although several residents had been diagnosed with COVID.
Many nursing home facilities were also severely understaffed during the early months of the pandemic, leading to deficient care, neglect, and negative health outcomes for residents, according to the Subcommittee’s findings.
Another anonymous worker said the facility where she worked, “only scheduled one nurse to care for 35 residents per shift in the rehabilitation unit since the COVID-19 pandemic began.”
“For-profit nursing home chains did not supply their workers with adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) and many nursing homes pressured staff to continue working despite having symptoms of or testing positive for the coronavirus—endangering nursing home residents and other staff.”
Management threatened to fire or retaliate against employees who called in sick or had a fever and companies did not offer paid sick leave to employees for quarantine.
One worker reported that employees who “had a sore throat, headache, and fever” were still required to work.
The Subcommittee also found that for-profit nursing home chains purposely used complex corporate structures to “obscure profits and avoid legal and regulatory accountability.” This finding included Genesis Healthcare, Inc., which owns twenty-five facilities in New Mexico and has received thousands of citations for regulatory violations by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services.