Did you know firm partner, Scott Gwartney, was interviewed by a reporter for NPR recently for a story on how nursing homes are caring for their residents since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic?  Nursing homes in Florida have been closed to outside visitors since mid-March, leaving many family members concerned about the welfare of their loved ones who reside in long-term care facilities. This has left many Floridians, including our Tallahassee residents, concerned about what the future holds for long-term care residents.

Mr. Gwartney summarized the interview: “Until these facilities open up to family visitors again, we just don’t know what is happening behind closed doors.”

As a long-term care litigator with nearly 30 years experience, Mr. Gwartney has been closely watching the data on COVID-19 infections in long-term care.  The press is reporting that about a third of all nursing homes have a positive case in their facility.  As he has examined the data available on COVID-19 in Florida long term care facilities, however, he sees that the vast majority of facilities with a positive case only report 1, 2 or 3 positives among their residents and staff.  

Mr Gwartney shares, “Honestly, that seems pretty good to me.  As easily as this disease spreads, if two-thirds of the long term care facilities have no cases of the virus, and the vast majority of the rest only have 2 or 3 positives, it seems to me the infection control protocols and social distancing protections have been very effective, when implemented.  Congratulations to those homes that have effectively kept the virus out and quarantined off their few exposures!  Job well done!”

He continues to say, “What’s very troubling is the handful of facilities that the novel coronavirus is running rampant through.  My review of the Florida data shows at least 35 long term care facilities that have a dozen or more positive cases among their vulnerable residents, and several homes have 30, 40 or more positive cases!  Something has clearly gone terribly wrong in those facilities.  Press reports on several of those long term care facilities here in the Florida panhandle point to glaring problems with the infection control protocols that were in place, or an apparent refusal to fully implement appropriate infection control measures under these circumstances.” 

We want you to know that not every case of COVID-19 in a long-term care setting is the result of negligence. Even so, when this dangerous virus is running rampant  through the halls where our most vulnerable citizens reside, further investigation will likely show that appropriate protocols were ignored or not enforced. We encourage you to ask us your questions now and not wait. Do not hesitate to contact us to schedule a case evaluation with Mr. Gwartney.