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A Seattle-area nursing home that has been an epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak and has recorded 37 resident deaths from the virus faces $611,000 in fines.
Life Care Center also could lose Medicare and Medicaid funding if it doesn’t correct violations uncovered by federal regulators.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the nursing home botched its response to the coronavirus outbreak by failing to report the increasing rate of respiratory infections among residents.
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Public health authorities found the facility didn’t have enough personal protective equipment and other items, such as alcohol-based hand sanitizer. They also said staff members worked despite showing symptoms, and sometimes didn’t know about or follow recommendations about protecting their eyes or being careful when close to ill patients.
An entrance sign is shown at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington. Federal authorities on Wednesday proposed a fine of more than $600,000 for the Seattle-area nursing home connected to the deaths of 37 residents. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
SICK, LOW-PAID STAFF FUELED CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC IN SEATTLE-AREA ELDERLY CARE CENTERS
Nursing home officials also were slow to think that symptoms might be caused by the coronavirus, and faced problems from limited testing ability, according to the report. Nearly two-thirds of the facility’s residents and staff were infected.
About 57 percent of the patients at the nursing home were hospitalized after getting infected. Of those, more than 1 in 4 died. No staff members died.
The federal Center for Medicare and Medical Services issued the fines.
CMS found the facility continued to admit new residents despite noticing a respiratory outbreak Feb. 10.
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One of those sickened by the coronavirus, Judie Shape, 81, was admitted Feb. 26 — the same day Life Care reported an outbreak to the state, according to the Seattle Times. She recovered.
“It just doesn’t fly,” said her daughter Lori Spencer, the paper reported. “Why did they continue to fill beds?”
Life Care said it was working with federal regulators to address the findings.
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“We are confident that with guidance from CMS we will be able to continue to be a top-rated facility going forward,” Life Care said, according to the paper.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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