New Jersey Nursing Home Settlement Results in Payment of $53M Over Deaths of 119 Veterans Due to COVID-19
The state of New Jersey has agreed to pay nearly $53 million to the families of 119 veterans who died of COVID-19 at veterans homes managed by the state during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
The New Jersey nursing home settlement was reached out-of-court on Wednesday, resolving claims brought by many of the family members who accused the state of gross negligence. Payments to each family may average $445,000, according to media reports.
Almost 200 residents of two state-run veterans’ nursing homes died of COVID-19 during 2020; which is more than one-third of the population of the two facilities. The deaths have been blamed on nursing home neglect, which included failures to meet standards of care and infection control.
According to complaints by the families of 119 of the victims, those failures included nursing home staff failing to follow infection control measures, including not wearing gloves and masks, as well as allowing residents to gather in common areas even after new infections were detected.
The $52.9 million agreement is believed to be the first of its kind, as New Jersey and several other states gave nursing homes and other medical care facilities significant immunity from COVID-19-related lawsuits.
Similar claims have been filed nationwide and some are seeing the potential for the New Jersey settlement agreement to become a roadmap for resolving such litigation, according to various media reports.
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With more than 1.3 million residents in over 15,000 Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing homes throughout the United States, significant attention has been placed on COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes, which caused more than 184,000 COVID-19 deaths among residents and staffing members throughout the country as of July 2021.
Many experts have expressed concern that chronic nursing home understaffing, a lack of preparation, and the elderly’s increased vulnerability to the effects of the virus have all contributed to the higher mortality and infection rates at certain facilities.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a study in September 2020, highlighting a link between COVID-19 and nursing home quality of care, indicating facilities which scored better in federal ratings have been less likely to experience severe outbreaks at their facilities.
Federal investigatorscontinue to explore how nursing home neglect played 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.
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