What’s the Problem?
Experts estimate that assisted-living facilities across the U.S. house more than 275,000 people with disabilities such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and autism. Many patients at these homes have severe underlying medical issues that increase the risk of COVID-19 infection. A survey taken by the Associated Press found that at least 5,800 residents in disabled homes and other assisted-living facilities nationwide have tested positive for the coronavirus, and more than 680 have died.
Thousands Sick From COVID-19 in Intermediate Care Facilities
Some of the institutions hardest hit by the coronavirus are intermediate care facilities, government-funded homes for the physically and mentally disabled. In the years leading up to the 2019-2020 pandemic, experts estimated that about 40% of intermediate care facilities in the U.S. had failed to meet safety standards for preventing and controlling the spread of infections and communicable diseases. Not surprisingly, residents of these homes have suffered greatly from COVID-19.
“These people are marginalized across the spectrum,” said Christopher Rodriguez, executive director at Disability Rights Louisiana. “If you have developmental disabilities, you are seen as less than human. You can see it in education, civil rights, employment. And now, you can see it by how they are being treated during the pandemic.”
Coronavirus Ravages Chicago Assisted-Living Facility
The Elisabeth Ludeman Developmental Center in Park Forest, Illinois, is among the intermediate care homes which have suffered the worst casualties from coronavirus. In recent years, health officials have cited the facility multiple times for violations including neglect of residents and not keeping restrooms stocked with soap and paper towels. And now, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the home is running low on basic medical supplies including surgical masks, gowns, hand sanitizers, and even wipes. At least 220 residents at Ludeman — more than half the people living there — and 125 staff members have tested positive for coronavirus, including 6 residents and 4 staff who died, according to the Los Angeles Times.
COVID-19 Cases Surge in Disabled Homes: WCVB Channel 5 Boston Video
COVID-19 Reporting Requirements Omit Homes for Disabled
As a result of the crisis facing intermediate care facilities nationwide, advocates are urging the federal government to do more to protect the disabled. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) ordered states to provide data about COVID-19 infections and deaths in nursing homes as the virus spread across the country. CMS also increased fines and made data about infections in nursing homes available to the public. However, the requirements did not extend to homes for the developmentally disabled, where the population is smaller but the virus has still taken a massive toll.
“The lives of people with disabilities in these settings are equally as at risk — and equally as worth protecting — as people in nursing homes,” said Alex Azar, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees CMS.
Do I Have a Disabled Home COVID-19 Lawsuit?
The Workplace and Environmental Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in Disabled Home COVID-19 Lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new injury and death cases in all 50 states.
If you or a loved one has been exposed to the coronavirus in a disabled home or other assisted-living facility, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a suit and we can help.