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Professor Nina Kohn in Time: Can Nursing Homes Offer Safe & Humane Care?

Posted on Friday 5/15/2020
Nina Kohn

"A License for Neglect:" Nursing Homes Are Seeking—and Winning —Immunity Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

(TIME | May 14, 2020) It was 11 p.m. on a Sunday in early May when Penny Shaw, a 76-year-old in Braintree, Massachusetts, picked up the phone and reported her nursing home to the local police. The staff on duty had just told her they couldn’t provide any of their usual care because they had no personal protection equipment (PPE). Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, the staff is supposed to wear PPE when helping all patients, but only the home’s administrator, who doesn’t work late on weekends, could give it out. So the certified nursing assistants wouldn’t be able to get masks, gloves or gowns until the morning.

Shaw was angry that her facility had put its staff, and her fellow residents, in that position, and so she called the cops. “They always make poor decisions and they continue to make poor decisions,” Shaw says. “I have to speak up for myself and other people" ...

... Barbara Duffy, a lawyer who defends nursing homes and sits on the legal committee of nursing home trade group AHCA, says that facilities are limited in what they can pay workers by the fact that they rely on Medicaid to pay the majority of patients’ bills. Advocates are skeptical of that defense. “If it’s true that they cannot provide safe care and humane care with the amount of money they’re being given to provide that care, then they need to go back to the government and say, ‘We can’t do this,’” says Nina Kohn, a law professor at Syracuse University and an expert on elder law. “Instead, what the industry does is it takes the money and it takes the residents and it doesn’t provide the care they need" ...

Read the full article.