Why is my Family Member Being Discharged from a Hospital to a Nursing Home with Coronavirus?

Fighting discharge from hospital to nursing home with COVID-19

Coronavirus is wreaking havoc on America’s healthcare system. Both hospitals and nursing homes are overwhelmed in their response to the COVID-19 outbreak. But why are patients with coronavirus being discharged from the hospital to a nursing home? Shouldn’t sickly COVID-19 patients stay in the hospital and get the best care possible?

Previously, our nursing home abuse attorneys have discussed coronavirus lawsuits against nursing homes. Now, we explain the growing trend of discharging ill, COVID19 patients from hospitals to nursing homes.

Coronavirus has Changed Healthcare Placement Options for Sick, Elderly Patients

The COVID19 virus has created a severe shortage of hospital beds in the U.S.

More specifically, coronavirus has shifted many traditional hospital beds into being ‘converted ICU beds’ for critically ill respiratory patients.

In many coronavirus hotspots in America, the virus has stretched hospital resources to a near-breaking point. As such, hospitals need to clear patients out to get more room for new patients. This is why we are seeing a recent upswing in the discharge of corona patients from acute care hospitals to skilled nursing facilities.

Understanding the Tug of War –
The Hospital’s Argument for Sending COVID19 Patients to Nursing Facilities

Hospitals are in dire straits right now. Elective procedures, non-emergent conditions and moderately ill people are all being turned away. Hospitalists are faced with a gut wrenching decision; is this person sick enough to stay in the hospital? If so, what are their chances of surviving their condition? These answers factor into whether the patient receives, or continues to occupy, a hospital bed.

The news from our nation’s top researchers, epidemiologists and scientists is grim. The coronavirus peak is still to come. This means hospitals must make a concerted effort to free up bed space and medical equipment for the inevitable onslaught of COVID-19 patients that will be coming in the next weeks and months.

This is why hospitals are discharging coronavirus patients to nursing homes in record numbers.

The Nursing Home’s Argument Against Admitting Coronavirus Positive Residents

Coronavirus is particularly dangerous in elderly, vulnerable patients. This defines just about every nursing home resident in the United States. In nursing facilities, staff go from room to room caring for residents, passing out food, administering medications and cleaning patient rooms. Even with stringent infectious disease isolation policies, the spread of this highly contagious disease is possible among these weakened nursing home patients. While nursing homes must legally be prepared to handle existing cases of COVID-19 involving their own residents, it is obvious why a facility would not want to admit knowingly infected corona patients from the hospital.

Further, skilled nursing facilities are not acute care hospitals. They do not have the medical equipment, respirators or pulmonology personnel that a hospital has. We continued to learn how dangerous this virus is, especially in already compromised elderly people. The onset of symptoms is fast and ruthless. Ignoring the potential to spread the virus, simply for the sake of the already infected patient, a hospital is a much safer place than a nursing home.

We’re looking at case fatality rates of 30, 40, 50% in nursing homes when coronavirus gets introduced” –Christopher Laxton, executive director of AMDA

For the above reasons, nursing homes are pushing back on admitting COVID19 patients from hospitals.

What Does the Government Say About Discharging Hospital Corona Patients to Nursing Homes?

Government allows hospitals to send corona patients into nursing homesThe Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has relaxed its rules on what kind of patient can be discharged to a skilled nursing facility.

In response to a question on discharging COVID-19 patients from hospitals, the head of CMS, Seema Verma, stated:

Our goal is to allow hospitals to reserve beds for the most severely ill patients by discharging those who are less severely ill to skilled nursing facilities” Seema Verma, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

So it appears that the Federal Government has tacitly approved of the discharge of non-critical coronavirus patients to nursing homes.

Other states have taken on this issue individually. Unsurprisingly, those states with the highest coronavirus numbers are taking more drastic action.

California has issued an official Proclamation of State Emergency in which skilled nursing facilities are being told to accept patients with the disease.

Connecticut has taken the initiative to re-open previously closed facilities, specifically to house COVID-19 positive patients. The idea behind this action is to segregate coronavirus patients in isolated facilities, or quarantined wings of facilities.

In New York, Governor Cuomo has stated projections call for at least 73,000 extra hospital beds to handle corona patients. Currently, there are only 53,000 beds available in New York. Officials are entertaining relying on existing skilled nursing facility beds to handle the overflow.

Can I Contact Your Firm to Stop a Discharge from Hospital to Nursing Home?

No, we cannot help you fight a hospital discharge into a nursing home. Unfortunately, we are merely civil attorneys that sue nursing homes for wrongful death and serious injury. We cannot assist you in fighting discharge from a hospital or nursing home. This is not the kind of legal matter we handle.

If you would like to contest a discharge from hospital to a nursing home, you should call your loved one’s health insurer. They usually provide an avenue of contesting discharge. If your loved one has Medicare, contact your local Medicare Quality Improvement Organization. Also, voice your concerns to the physician or discharge professional at the hospital where your loved one is currently admitted. You can also file a complaint with the long term care ombudsman.

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