On May 1, Professor David Hoffman wrote an opinion piece in The Philadelphia Inquirer arguing that the U.S. has neglected to protect a particularly vulnerable population, nursing home residents, many of whom have endured profound suffering during the pandemic.
Nursing homes have been the site of numerous outbreaks and more than 10,000 deaths related to COVID-19. “The enormous failure by the federal government to sound the alarm in a timely fashion, ensure that protective gear was available to health-care providers, and deliver meaningful guidance to nursing home providers cost us not only time but lives,” Hoffman argues.
Hoffman, who is president of a national healthcare consulting firm and serves as a federal and state monitor of nursing homes, describes a March 4 monitoring visit that captures the disconnect between regulators and nursing home operators.
“The nursing home staff was concerned that restricting access by third parties would lead to possible regulatory citations by state surveyors, and therefore was reluctant to do so,” he writes, noting that the inability for “consistent, thoughtful” enforcement of regulations by federal and state agencies has led to “a toxic environment” in which adhering to regulations often eclipses reasonable approaches for ensuring the health and safety of residents.
Hoffman also takes the nursing home industry to task for its lack of preparation for the pandemic in spite of nursing home requirements of participation that “required that facilities establish and maintain ‘an infection prevention and control program designed to provide a safe, sanitary and comfortable environment and to help prevent the development and transmission of communicable diseases and infections.’”
This negligence will, in Hoffman’s opinion, lead to Congressional hearings, regulatory citations, possible prosecutions and lawsuits.