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Pandemic and legal immunity for nursing homes put elderly at risk

If your parents or grandparents are in a nursing home, you may have become increasingly concerned about their safety and well-being in the last couple of months. The spread of the novel coronavirus, combined with stay-at-home orders, has put elderly patients in nursing home facilities at a higher risk of abuse and neglect.

And unfortunately, the remedies for this population are not improving. In states across the U.S., nursing home facilities are securing protection from civil liability if a patient suffers an injury, illness or death.

Protections for "a unique moment"

Many nursing homes struggled with issues like safety, staffing and oversight long before the pandemic. And until now, families and victims who suffered damages as a result of these shortcomings have been able to hold a negligent provider or facility accountable.

However, as this TIME article states, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in many states have lobbied for legal protection during this "unique moment" of unprecedented challenges. While Colorado is not on this list, this could change as the crisis continues.

The move to secure legal protection has revealed a grim reality: many nursing homes are incapable of providing the type of care and protection patients need.

What this means for you and your loved ones

The elderly population has been one of the most vulnerable groups affected by COVID-19. The threat is only heightened when you also consider the known challenges in nursing homes related to poor staffing and insufficient visibility into care practices.

As such, if someone you love is in a care facility - even if they are in another state - checking in on them can be especially critical right now. And if you have any concerns regarding the safety and health of your loved one, it can be vital to talk to a lawyer, file a complaint or consider relocating your loved one, if possible.

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