Have Nursing Homes Become Death Factories?

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If you have a  relative or a close friend in a nursing home, be concerned not only with the pace of recovery from the admitting affliction but toss in the fear that person is likely to die of the current Chinese Virus pandemic sweeping the nation. Photo Credit: AP

If you have a  relative or a close friend in a nursing home, be concerned not only with the pace of recovery from the admitting affliction but toss in the fear that person is likely to die of the current Chinese Virus pandemic sweeping the nation. The number of  reported coronavirus deaths in New York’s long-term care facilities has more than doubled to over 6,000 in the past week, according to NBC News which has focused on this now major problem area.

The death count is based on data from 29 New York State health departments and includes nursing homes, assisted living and other long-term healthcare facilities. Around the nation, there are now 3,466 such businesses in 39 states with known coronavirus infections. Their resident patients are likely the victims of the greed, incompetence and criminal neglect of the proprietors of these businesses that seem to be run for profit and not for their advertised goals of helping their patients. It seems, their motto is, “Money First!”

Let’s look at the problems right here in our own backyard. The ownerships of these groups seem to be like a spider web of people who have little or no experience in the health field. Let’s focus in on Louis Schwartz. He is a top executive at New Jersey’s largest nursing home, where at least 15 bodies were discovered crammed into a four-person morgue recently. Records show that he he is listed as a 50 percent owner of the Andover Subacute Facility I and II in Sussex County, where the bodies were found.

Public records also indicate that Schwartz was a vice-president at Skyline Healthcare, a now defunct nursing home chain that was plagued by allegations of neglect and mismanagement and the subject of more than a dozen lawsuits. When Skyline suddenly closed its doors for lack of funds, their staff was already laying out funds from their own pockets to supply their patients with toilet paper. At its peak, Skyline Healthcare owned or ran more than 100 facilities in 11 states, caring for more than 7,000 elderly patients. But the chain collapsed throwing patients and employees out to fend for themselves. Money, not care seems to be the purpose of these “healthcare” facilities. Shame on them.

This shows the failure of state and federal authorities to keep up with just who owns and runs our nation’s nursing home facilities, which house 1.3 million elderly and disabled. Three quarters of them are in beds paid for by taxpayers via Medicare and Medicaid. We call on the federal government to monitor the performance of the firms that own these facilities. Poor management coupled together with incompetence and  resultant unsanitary conditions put nursing home residents at risk of serious infections and deaths as seen in this current Covid-19 situation.

Too many have management personnel who are linked together to form sort of a Mafia group in this vital industry. The allegations of  basic health care violations at major nursing home chains are unnerving and frightening. We at the Jewish Voice are calling on our elected representatives to get on the stick and start a major investigation into this troubled area of health care.

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