Nursing Home Legal Alert - 12/29/2020

Hurwitz & Fine's COVID-19 Legal Alert: 
Medical & Nursing Home Liability

Weekly News Alert
Tuesday, December 29, 2020
An important message from the Hurwitz & Fine COVID-19 Response Team
A Note from Pat Curran
As 2020 draws to a close, we are reflecting on the tumultuous year that the nursing home and assisted living communities in New York have faced since the COVID-19 pandemic began its onslaught in the spring. From facility staff, healthcare providers and residents alike, we have bore witness to grief, uncertainty, and fear, but also to strength, determination, and hope. Time after time, wave after wave, these communities have been asked to rise to new challenges all while dealing with ever-changing information, regulations, and PPE shortages. We simply want to say THANK YOU for the perseverance and dedication in the effort to care for and protect the most vulnerable members of society.

We are extremely pleased to note that New York’s nursing home and assisted living facility residents and staff have begun to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, with the first round of inoculations due to be completed by the end of this week. Though this may indeed be the light at the end of the tunnel, the harrowing reports of sharp increases of facility infections and deaths for both residents and staff nationwide make clear the continuing imperative to adhere to all pandemic guidelines and remain vigilant in the implementation of mask-wearing and social distancing.

Legal news of changing COVID-19 related regulations and guidelines has continued to slow, from the waterfall of the spring to a quiet trickle. Stay tuned for continuing legal updates in 2021 from our team on important news affecting the medical and nursing home communities.  Contact Chris Potenza at [email protected] to subscribe to our newsletter, Medical & Nursing Home Liability Pointers. 

From our team here at Hurwitz & Fine, we wish you a very Happy Holidays and a joyous New Year as we all hope for a bright and prosperous 2021!
‘The Light At The End Of The Tunnel’ – NY Nursing Homes Begin Receiving COVID-19 Vaccine
Vaccines began arriving at nursing home facilities statewide on December 21, with approximately 80,000 doses of the Pfizer-produced vaccine set aside for nursing home residents and staff. New York has opted into a federal distribution program in which pharmacies such as Walgreens and CVS send providers to each of the state’s 618 nursing homes. The vaccine requires two inoculations several weeks apart, and so pharmacy providers will attend each facility on three occasions, with the first inoculation of residents due to be completed by the end of the year.
Stephen Hanse, president and CEO of the New York State Health Facilities Association has stated that all nursing home residents and staff who are willing to be vaccinated, should be vaccinated. It is unclear how many facility residents and staff members will accept the vaccine, though the number is likely to be higher among healthcare providers and older residents given that the majority receive the flu vaccine annually. Those that decline treatment may have additional restrictions placed upon them, though these would be upheld on a facility-by-facility basis. Moreover, while the vaccine prevents severe illness, it is still unclear whether it prevents infection and transmission, so masks, social distancing and PPE will still be needed even once the majority of facility residents and staff are vaccinated.


The Cost of Inaction – New Report Paints Bleak Picture of COVID-19 Forecast
An update to the report by Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa. and Ron Wyden, D-Ore. on the response of the Trump administration to COVID-19 in nursing homes originally produced in July of this year, has been released. The update, a self-described “snapshot of the worsening crisis in nursing homes across the U.S.” reported that more than 15 nursing home residents died of COVID-19 per hour in November, with that number rising to 19 resident deaths per hour during the week of November 22, citing data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Over the past three months, the rate at which COVID-19 deaths are occurring in nursing homes is increasing rapidly, the report stated. Between September 6, 2020 and November 22, 2020, more than 20,000 nursing home residents died of COVID-19. During this period, the same number of weekly deaths in nursing homes more than doubled, from approximately 1,300 deaths during the weeks of September 6, 2020, to 3,100 deaths during the week of November 22, 2020 – equal to a 133% increase. Deaths reported among workers from COVID-19 also spiked, rising from 28 in the week of September 6 to 55 the week of November 22 – a increase of 96%. These numbers categorically emphasize the need for all facilities to continue to remain vigilant in their prevention of the transmission of the COVID-19 virus, even as the vaccine continues to be rolled out across the nation.
Hurwitz & Fine's COVID-19 Medical & Nursing Home Defense Team
With over 50 years of combined experience in defending doctors, nurses, and medical professionals, as well as hospitals, institutions, and nursing homes, the Hurwitz & Fine COVID-19 Medical & Nursing Home Defense Team is here for you.  The medical field and nursing home community are facing incredible pressure in dealing with this current COVID-19 outbreak that is stretching resources beyond capacity.  We are here to defend our caregivers on the frontlines of this unprecedented pandemic from claims of negligence and malpractice. 

Our defense team has the trial results and experience to vigorously defend our caregivers facing blame in these most trying of circumstances.  Patrick B. Curran has dedicated his 40-year legal career defending medical professionals and nursing homes from claims of negligence and malpractice.  He has also served as an adjunct faculty member at the University at Buffalo School of Law, and lecturer for the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and School of Nursing, as well as for other health care professional and community groups.  V. Christopher Potenza is a seasoned and trial-tested litigator, having obtained defense verdicts across New York State on complex matters. He has substantial experience defending claims at the federal, state, and appellate levels.  
As a public service, we are pleased to present this legal alert, which aims to provide our clients and subscribers with timely information on how the COVID-19 pandemic may impact medical and nursing home claims.  In some jurisdictions, newsletters such as this may be considered: Attorney Advertising.
If you know of others who may wish to subscribe to these legal alerts, please feel free to forward it. If you wish to subscribe or unsubscribe, please do so at the bottom of this newsletter.
Your COVID-19 Medical & Nursing Home Defense Team
is here to answer your questions:

V. Christopher Potenza, Esq. ([email protected])
Patrick B. Curran, Esq. ([email protected])

For more information on our COVID-19 Legal Response Team,
including Business Services, Coverage, and Labor & Employment, click here.

For more legal updates regarding the coronavirus, click here.
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