Se Habla Español
COVID-19 Wreaking Havoc at some Missouri Nursing Homes
“It has gone through that building like fire,” says a staff member at Festus Manor. According to various news reports Festus Manor now has over 80 cases of COVID-19 originating from the facility. Sixty-two residents and 20 staff members have tested positive for the coronavirus and at least one resident has died.
Nursing Homes Are Required to Prevent the Spread of Infection
Long before COVID-19 became a threat, Missouri’s nursing homes were required to have policies and procedures in place to prevent the spread of infection. Missouri’s regulatory rules state quite clearly: “The facility shall develop policies and procedures applicable to its operation to insure the residents’ health and safety and to meet the residents’ needs. At a minimum, there shall be policies covering personnel practices, admission, discharge, payment, medical emergency treatment procedures, nursing practices, pharmaceutical services, social services, activities, dietary, housekeeping, infection control, disaster and accident prevention, residents’ rights and handling residents’ property.” 19 CSR 30-85.042(13)
There are many nursing homes around the state that do not have any cases of COVID-19, but there are a few where the virus seems completely out of control. One has to wonder if those suffering high rates of coronavirus infection had enough staff members on hand to adequately care for residents and were they diligent in their infection control measures.
- Were staff members washing their hands repeatedly during the day and after tending to each resident?
- Were residents distanced from other residents to prevent the spread of the virus?
- Were infected residents separated from healthy residents?
- Did the administrative staff obtain and require employees to wear personal protective equipment (PPE)?
There are so many easy, common-sense safety measures that could and should be in place to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The question is whether nursing homes are following them.
According to the KMOV story, an unidentified staff member has alleged that the facility was slow to isolate patients and provide protective equipment. The staff member also alleges that visitors were still allowed to visit relatives long after the government closed facilities to outsiders, stating: “We were still having family members come a week after everyone else had stopped.” The whistle blower concluded, “I think honestly they don’t know what they’re doing there.”
Festus Manor is a 150 bed for-profit nursing home located at 627 Westwood Drive South in Festus, Missouri. While it accepts residents whose care is paid for by both Medicare and Medicaid, the KMOV story quote Marjorie Moore from VOYCE, an advocacy organization for those who are in assisted living facilities as stating that Festus Manor relied a lot of Medicaid. She goes on to state: “I think the reality of it, they have less resources, so they have less ability to be prepared for things like this.”
If that is true, then several questions arise: 1) Why do they have less resources? 2) Do they have the resources to “meet the needs of the residents” as required by Missouri law? 3) Do they tell residents and their family members that they are short on resources? 4) Who are the owners and what are they doing to ensure that the facility is sufficiently funded to ensure that the residents needs are being met. These are all fair questions that family members should be asking given the severity of what has transpired at the Festus Manor facility.
The actual ownership of Festus Manor is hard to determine from publicly available records. Nursing Home Compare shows ownership as a Delaware company called OPCO FESTUS, MO, LLC which appears to be 100% owned by HOLDCO FESTUS, MO, LLC which appears to have its ownership in Chicago, Illinois. As of this writing, Medicare.gov/NursingHomeCompare lists Festus Manor as an overall 4-star facility but it maintains a 2-star rating for staffing levels which is defined by Medicare as “Below Average”.
Staffing is a key component when it comes to implementing infection control and measures designed to keep the residents safe. As you can see from this chart from the Nursing Home Compare feature on Medicare.gov, Festus Manor lags behind both the state and federal averages when it comes to every classification of nursing staff members. While they are close on nurse aides (CNAs), Festus Manor residents receive about half as much care from licensed nurses than the national average and substantially less than Missouri average. Staffing decisions are typically made by ownership rather than those directly responsible for caring for residents.
Frontier Health & Rehabilitation
Frontier Health & Rehabilitation located at 2840 West Clay Street in St. Charles, Missouri has also been inundated with COVID-19 cases, according to recent media reports. KMOV 4 has reported that 63 residents have reported positive for the COVID-19 virus while 12 residents have actually died. KMOV also reports that 12 employees have tested positive and are currently quarantined in their homes.
Frontier Health & Rehabilitation is a for-profit nursing home operating under the company name SRZ OP FRONTIER LLC which appears to be owned by SRZ OP HOLDINGS LLC. It’s ownership appears to be made up of a series of trusts, companies and individuals. This facility has an overall 1-star rating which Medicare defines as a “Much Below Average” facility. During its last annual inspection by government officials on November 4, 2019 it received 22 health citations. The Missouri average is 8.6 and the national average is 8.2.
When it comes to staffing, Frontier Nursing & Rehab is also “Much Below Average”. Although it is right in line with state and national averages for LPNs, it falls behind in total care by registered nurses and is well behind when it comes to care provided on a daily basis to each resident by nurse aides (CNAs).
Nursing Homes Are Not Communicating With Families
Our office has received calls concerned that nursing homes are not communicating with family members about the status of their loved ones. Some families don’t know if their loved one has been infected by COVID-19 or not because they can’t get anyone at the facility to respond to a phone call. Families are justifiably concerned. To that end, we put together a video on what to do if you are having difficulty getting answers out of the nursing home where your family member resides.