A nursing home in Mt. Airy, Maryland was recently fined $70,000 by state health officials, because it failed to adequately isolate residents who tested positive for COVID-19, putting others in the facility at risk.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the nation, hitting its highest rates in many states, Maryland has kept the number of new infections relatively low. However, as of June 24, the Maryland Department of Health reports there have been at least 4,445 illnesses reported among residents of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and group homes. There have also been 1,017 resident deaths, as well as about 2,230 illnesses and 21 deaths among staff members of those facilities.
The state’s first outbreak reportedly began at the Pleasant View Nursing Home in Mt. Airy, which is a 104-bed facility that has seen COVID-19 infections among at least 87 residents and 45 employees, resulting in 29 deaths.
According to a report by WAMU.org, the state has fined Pleasant View $70,000 after inspectors determined that the facility failed to properly isolate new residents, and failed to keep patients who tested positive for COVID-19 properly separated from those who tested negative. In addition, nursing staff often moved between rooms of patients who tested both positive and negative, which could spread the virus. The facility was also cited for having insufficient staffing levels.
As a result, through much of May, the Maryland Department of Health fined the facility $5,000 per day for the health violations.
A report in early June by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) indicated more than one-quarter of all coronavirus deaths nationwide occurred in nursing home facilities.
Federal investigators are exploring the possibility of nursing home neglect playing a role in the COVID-19 outbreak, which was first detected in a nursing home in Washington State that became the epicenter for the U.S. pandemic. Investigators say the nursing home failed to respond to the outbreak adequately, placing residents in jeopardy of illness and death.
Facing growing criticism and lawsuits, many nursing homes are seeking immunity from coronavirus death lawsuits. However, opponents point out that will further endanger residents, shielding facilities from liability when they fail to take reasonable measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Currently, there are 2.64 million confirmed COVID-19 infections nationwide, and nearly 130,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins researchers.