Inspector General Appointed to Oversee L.A. County Nursing Homes Amid COVID-19

Lightbulb showing LA County hiring General Inspector to oversee nursing homes

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has appointed an inspector general to oversee nursing homes amid the coronavirus pandemic. The move comes as congregate living facilities account for more than half of the county’s deaths resulting from COVID-19. The inspector general for nursing homes will be responsible for monitoring and overseeing skilled nursing facilities as the pandemic continues. 

As of last week, 1,033 residents in Los Angeles County’s institutional settings have died from COVID-19. The vast majority of those fatalities were nursing home residents, accounting for 52% of all deaths via the coronavirus. 

L.A. County Board Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Mark Ridley-Thomas sponsored the proposal creating the inspector general for nursing homes position. 

“While some skilled nursing homes may be doing their best to respond to COVID-19, we’ve seen hundreds of deaths at these facilities, tragically exposing the urgent need for stronger oversight across the industry,” Ridley-Thomas said in a public statement issued last week. “Now, more than ever, we must act to address any questionable operations and substandard conditions in the facilities that care for some of our most vulnerable residents — the elderly, the low-income and the disabled,” he added. 

The motion stipulates the newly appointed inspector general will evaluate the current crises affecting nursing homes and subsequently provide “recommendations on operational and programmatic changes necessary to improve the county’s monitoring and oversight of these facilities, including legislative and regulatory recommendations aimed at improving operations within these facilities.”

For years area nursing homes have failed to comply with county and state regulations designed to protect their residents. As such, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas suggested the new role of L.A. County Inspector General for COVID-19 would not be temporary, and would continue beyond the pandemic on account of the systemic issues plaguing skilled nursing facilities, particularly nursing homes. “It is not uncommon knowledge that these facilities operate at a less than desirable level, and that’s why you have to have regular routine inspections and enforcement,” he said. “You have to have all of that in order for them to treat the residents, the patients and the employees properly. There is a question whether or not profit motive drives the substandard conditions experienced in some of these facilities.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, as of Monday 4,800 residents and 3,000 staff members from long-term care facilities have tested positive for the virus. The impact on the residents of these facilities has been catastrophic, leaving countless senior citizens, many of whom pay tens-of-thousands of dollars to live in an ostensibly safe and secure environment, facing exorbitant medical costs following contraction of the virus. Those who have been fortunate to survive face a long and difficult period of rehabilitation following the effects of COVID-19. 

In short, the coronavirus pandemic has made what was already a bad situation throughout our nation’s nursing homes — rife with rampant elder abuse and neglect — and made it much, much worse. Accordingly, many nursing home residents are seeking legal representation so they may fight for their rights and obtain justice against these negligent and nefarious institutions — many of which are currently seeking immunity from lawsuits that will expose their widespread failures. 

How will this affect California’s nursing homes residents?

According to POLITICO, a coalition of nursing homes and provider groups (backed via a multi-million dollar lobbying machine) wrote to Governor Gavin Newsom in last month asking for “unusually broad protections from liability.” Additionally, POLITICO reported that, “The groups, which collectively spent $1.1 million lobbying the state government in the last year, suggested an executive order that would shield them from ‘any administrative sanction or criminal or civil liability or claim,’ unless there is ‘clear and convincing evidence of willful misconduct.'”

The nursing home industry is on a mission to skirt their responsibility in handling the COVID-19 pandemic, and avoid costly lawsuits. At Berberian Ain, we are on a mission to ensure that those nursing home residents who have been wronged obtain justice in the form of a financial settlement. We will hold these negligent institutions responsible for their actions, and we will fight for the rights of seniors who have been injured or died as a result of COVID-19. 

If you or someone you love has been impacted by COVID-19 in a nursing home or long-term care setting, please contact us today for a free consultation.