The COVID-19 vaccine was supposed to re-open previously closed doors and give people the ability to reconnect with loved ones and the rest of the world. Confidence was high that the worst was behind us, but is it? News sources find that as of June 1, 2021, nearly one-third of COVID-19 deaths are linked to nursing homes. So why are so many nursing home staff members still unvaccinated and putting the lives of residents and other staff members at risk?

Unvaccinated nursing home staff members may be to blame for the rising number of nursing home COVID cases and deaths, according to a new article by the Associated Press. The rising number of cases has become so concerning that it has triggered an investigation in Colorado by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency cites worries that vulnerable elderly residents are not being adequately protected, especially with the spread of the new, highly aggressive, and transmissible Delta variant.

This is especially worrisome, seeing as how Kentucky is one of the states with the lowest nursing home staff vaccination rates in the entire country. According to data from AARP, less than half of all Kentucky nursing home caregivers have been vaccinated. While Kentucky has one of the lowest vaccination rates among nursing home staff, the state has seen some 2,500 deaths in nursing homes, according to a local news source. Now, as the Delta variant takes hold, many family members are fearful, once again, about the safety of their loved ones.

Unfortunately, Kentucky has already been at the center of several deadly nursing home outbreaks this year already. Many of the recent outbreaks are being attributed to unvaccinated workers. These outbreaks prompted the CDC to urge Kentucky nursing home staff members to get vaccinated for the health and safety of themselves and their vulnerable residents.

What does this data have to do with nursing home abuse and neglect? Family members may be concerned that there is a parallel between nursing homes with low vaccination rates and other possible lapses in care that may lead to abuse or neglect. It may be a valid concern seeing as how many nursing homes have already established a bad track record of not following basic infection control protocols. In some cases, Kentucky nursing homes have been handed violations for staff not washing their hands and not properly sanitizing equipment. A family may ask the question: “if a staff member isn’t concerned about giving my loved one COVID, what else aren’t they concerned about?”

Not getting vaccinated does not automatically mean that neglect or abuse is going on within the walls of a nursing home. However, COVID is a deadly virus, and studies have shown it hits vulnerable populations, like the elderly, particularly hard. If you are concerned about the care your loved one is receiving in a nursing home or long-term care facility, ask the facility these questions.

  • What protocols do you have in place to prevent outbreaks among staff and residents?
  • How many of your staff members are vaccinated?

Family members may also want to check with state and federal agencies about vaccination statistics. As of June 20, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will compel nursing homes to report their vaccination data. Failing to report may result in a financial penalty to the facility.

If you or a close family member is suffering from some type of abuse or neglect at the hands of a nursing home or their staff, please contact the office of Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP for help. We take your concerns seriously and may be able to use the legal system to get justice and compensation for your loved one. Share your worries with us, and let’s talk about how we may be able to help. Call us today at (859) 550-2900.