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Nursing Home Understaffing During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Nursing home staff are considered front-line or essential workers in Florida during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nursing home staff perform an essential service in keeping residents of nursing homes in Miami, Hollywood, Homestead, and other communities safe. Staff are essential to keeping residents calm and taking care of patients with COVID-19, providing them with the care they need. Staff also implement new safety protocols to keep everyone safe.

Unfortunately, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, some nursing homes in Cooper City, Coral Springs, Fort Lauderdale, and other South Florida communities were chronically understaffed, which affected the quality of care and the safety of residents.

The Risks of Nursing Home Staff Shortages

During the COVID-19 pandemic, chronic understaffing can be fatal. Understaffed nursing homes mean:

  • There are fewer staff to take care of unwell patients
  • There is fewer staff to handle increased demand for safety and hygiene protocols
  • There is less staff available to carefully screen patients for symptoms
  • When a staff member falls ill or has the symptoms of the virus, it may be harder to replace them
  • Staff face pressure to keep working even when they are ill or have been potentially exposed to the virus, simply because there’s no one to replace them
  • Preventing cross-contamination may be harder if staff are overworked
  • There may not be adequate staff to separate COVID-19 patients from healthy residents
  • Overworked staff may suffer from exhaustion and may make mistakes
  • Resident needs are not met
How Nursing Homes Can Address Staff Shortages

Nursing homes in Broward county and Miami-Dade county may need to hire additional staff to help with the increased demands of increased hygiene processes, social distancing, and other preventive measures. With COVID-19, staff now may need to answer more family questions about the status of the virus in a nursing home, they may need to check temperatures more often, and they may need to work longer hours in order to properly use personal protective equipment and wipe down all surfaces in addition to their other duties.

There are many ways nursing homes can address staff shortages. They may need to offer higher pay or more benefits to attract more staff and may need to increase recruiting efforts. Nursing homes may also need to develop protocols to address shortages caused by staff members getting COVID-19. They may need to hire temporary staff at times, but it’s also important they screen staff carefully to avoid nursing home abuse.

Failure of Nursing Homes to Address Staffing Needs

If nursing homes are chronically understaffed or fail to hire new staff to help them implement the measures recommended by health authorities, they may be found liable if residents are harmed by their negligence. Staff shortages can lead to outbreaks or fatalities among residents. If a COVID-19 outbreak occurred because there simply isn’t enough staff, nursing homes can be held liable.

If a loved one has suffered from COVID-19 or has lost their life to the virus due to overcrowding or understaffing at a nursing home, contact Flaxman Law Group at 1-866-352-9626 (1-866-FLAXMAN) for a free consultation with a nursing home abuse and negligence attorney.

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