Pennsylvania Nursing Home Hit With Lawsuit Due to Understaffing and Deaths During COVID-19 Pandemic

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Pennsylvania Nursing Home Hit With Lawsuit Due to Understaffing and Deaths During COVID-19 Pandemic
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Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center in Beaver, Pennsylvania is facing a lawsuit on behalf of 15 nursing home residents, 10 of whom died from catching the coronavirus, allegedly due to unsafe conditions in the facility.

According to the official complaint, at least 73 deaths at the nursing home can be linked to the coronavirus outbreak, and may have been at least partially prevented by proper staffing and attention to hygiene and COVID safety measures.

Allegations of “managerial and operational negligence, carelessness, recklessness, and willful and wanton conduct” are being brought against nursing home administration according to the complaint.

It is important to note that the allegations in this lawsuit are directed against the nursing home administration rather than the frontline staff. The involved parties maintain that the resident caregivers such as staff nurses, aids, therapists, and custodial staff are not to blame for the unsafe conditions, and did their best with the minimal resources they were offered.

Instead, the plaintiffs in this lawsuit point out that Brighton’s administrative and managerial team did not offer training, supervision, support, and most of all adequate staffing to the resident caregivers.

In March 2020, Brighten Rehab was home to “460, mostly elderly and/or sick citizens”, 330 of which allegedly contracted the virus and 73 of whom had died at the time of the lawsuit.

All of these residents relied on the long-term care facility to make use of its resources to care for their health and safety during the pandemic. The lawsuit alleges that Brighton failed to provide resident caregivers and employees with the personal protective gear, training, and support they needed to help make the best of a dangerous environment. This complaint revolves around the idea that if Brighton had taken reasonably expected measures of safety, many of the deaths and illnesses resulting from COVID could have been avoided.

The allegations of this lawsuit can be summarized in the following sentence from page 56 of the complaint: “Despite receiving this funding from Medicare and Medicaid, Brighton and its administration failed to ensure, through its operational, budgetary, and managerial decisions, that Brighton was sufficiently staffed to meet the individual needs of all residents, including the needs of the Plaintiffs and Plaintiffs' Decedents.”

Unfortunately, understaffing is a common problem in long-term care facilities like Brighton.

Allegedly, staffing numbers at Brighton were so low at the beginning of the pandemic that one nurse would be left to care for up to 55 residents at a time. It is entirely unsurprising that in such an understaffed environment the virus would rage and residents would go without the routine care they needed. In fact, the lawsuit goes on to point out that when calculating the Medicare and Medicaid funding Brighton received in comparison to the money saved by understaffing, the care facility profited significantly from allowing wilful and wanton understaffing to continue.

Understaffing in a nursing home is dangerous in any scenario, and is particularly perilous in the midst of a pandemic.

When the number of residents far outweighs the number of staff, this can lead to gross oversights in the care of residents. When there are too many residents for nursing home staff to keep up with, neglect is the best-case scenario, with endangerment and abuse alarmingly common. Understaffing also fails to allow for adequate and necessary breaks for employees, often leading to resident caretakers feeling overworked, and underappreciated. This in turn leads to burnout and inherent oversights in the care of the patient.

If you or a loved one have suffered due to nursing home negligence, reach out to a nursing home abuse attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options for physical and financial recovery.

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