For residents of a Kirkland nursing home, the place where they are supposed to feel most safe is a place that is threatening – and taking – their lives. Seattle area’s Life Care Center of Kirkland is the site of a devastating coronavirus outbreak that has made dozens of vulnerable people sick and worse. At least 37 Kirkland nursing home residents have passed away from coronavirus at the time of publishing this article in early April 2020. Could this be a case of nursing home negligence?
To make matters worse, it looks like the coronavirus outbreak could have been prevented by following proper standards, policies, and procedures. In other words, the nursing home’s general practices and management of the coronavirus outbreak may be a case of nursing home negligence. In this article, we explore the facts.
Vulnerable Population At The Kirkland Nursing Home
Senior citizens and the elderly are vulnerable populations for several reasons. Among them is the fact that their immune systems are weaker than those of younger adults. Before the novel coronavirus had even reached the United States, medical professionals and the wider world were well aware that it posed a much greater threat to people of 60 years and older.
Not only are seniors a vulnerable population, but nursing homes are generally at higher risk of virus outbreak. Nursing homes house large numbers of people with weak immune systems and underlying health conditions in close quarters. Those who work in the senior’s care industry are familiar with this augmented vulnerability. Therefore, nursing homes such as the Life Care Center of Kirkland should have taken the spread of coronavirus very seriously from an early stage. This sets the stage for potential nursing home negligence.
Track Record Sets Stage For Coronavirus Outbreak
It’s worth considering the Kirkland nursing home’s track record on health from before the coronavirus outbreak. In general, the Life Care Center of Kirkland had a good track record and authorities knew other nursing homes to have care problems more often. However, in April of 2019, health inspectors found that the facility had failed to take the necessary precautions to prevent infections from spreading. This shows that the facility had not followed proper standards as it relates to illness prevention in the past.
Facts About The Kirkland Nursing Home Coronavirus Outbreak
What’s happening with the Kirkland nursing home coronavirus outbreak is still unfolding. However, there is good reason to think this is a case of nursing home negligence. Here are the facts as we know them in early April 2020.
By February 19th
Management should have known that coronavirus was a problem for the Kirkland nursing home. This is when the center sent the first resident to a nearby hospital with symptoms. Medical professionals later confirmed that this patient had coronavirus.
Despite sending their first resident to hospital with coronavirus, the Kirkland nursing home continued to accept new residents. For example, on February 26th, Lori Spencer dropped off her eighty-one-year-old mother Judie Shape. Judie had just had surgery. Her plan was to stay at the Life Care Center of Kirkland while recovering, then return to her retirement community when she was better. Lori and Judie were unaware that coronavirus was at the center.
On February 27th
Kirkland fire fighters responded to more than a dozen calls about struggling residents. The broader community started to notice that something was awry at the Kirkland nursing home. Three days after that, the center announced that one of its residents had tested positive for coronavirus. At this point, it was too late to move any of the residents to protect them from the coronavirus outbreak.
The coronavirus outbreak worsened in late February and early March of 2020. More and more residents developed coronavirus symptoms including high temperatures and difficulty breathing. Still, management was not testing any of the residents for the virus at this time. The facility responded by isolating residents in their rooms. Without showers in rooms, residents could not shower. This suggests that the facility was unable to deliver proper care. Some residents were having emotional problems while others were struggling with dementia.
On March 4th
Officials finally announced that everyone in the facility would be tested for coronavirus. By March 7th, twenty-six people with some connection to the Kirkland nursing home had died. Authorities confirmed that thirteen of these people had died in hospital with coronavirus. Almost half of staff reported symptoms and were unable to work.
Fines For Breaching Health Regulations
Federal regulators conducted an investigation of the coronavirus-ravaged Kirkland nursing home once they realized there were issues at the facility. The inspection found critical problems that contributed to the coronavirus outbreak. As a result, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services fined the Life Care Center of Kirkland over $611,000 on Thursday April 2nd.
The fine breaks down to $13,585 per day effective Feb. 12th continuing through March 27th. The facility can appeal the fine.
The federal inspection found a number of deficiencies at the Kirkland nursing home that placed residents in “imminent danger” including:
- The facility failed to rapidly identify and manage sick residents even as the number of respiratory infections spiraled.
- The center failed to notify the state Department of Health about the increasing rate of respiratory infections among residents.
- The facility failed to have a backup plan in the absence of its primary doctor who fell ill.
The fact that federal regulators discovered breaches of health regulations and that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services fined the Kirkland nursing home for these breaches contributes to the case for nursing home negligence. Each deficiency placed residents in immediate jeopardy resulting in at least 37 coronavirus deaths so far.
In a follow-up inspection, authorities found that some problems at the Kirkland nursing home have been corrected. As a result, the facility may operate until Sept. 16th. If the Life Care Center of Kirkland has not corrected all problems by this date, the federal government may cancel its Medicare provider agreement.
Consult Experienced Nursing Home Negligence Attorneys In The Seattle Area
Families with a loved one who has been hurt or taken by the coronavirus outbreak at the Life Care Center of Kirkland may have legal options. The nursing home negligence attorneys at Premier Law Group are award-winning and media-recognized with experience in cases like these. Our mission is to make sure that everyone who contacts us becomes more informed about their options – whether we represent them or not – and to provide the absolute best service to clients.
If your family member was hurt or taken by the coronavirus outbreak, contact Premier Law Group for a free confidential consultation. We offer free consultations by phone so that you don’t have to leave your home to consult with us. Call 206.285.1743 now to speak with a trusted nursing home negligence attorney.