Never has more trust been placed in nursing homes to care for elderly patients. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has put many in the senior population at risk of serious illness and death. For owners of nursing homes in so-called “hot zones,” it should be “all hands on deck” to protect the people most susceptible to dying from the deadly virus.

New Mexico’s Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham recently announced a partnership with Genesis Healthcare to find a safe place for elderly residents who have tested positive for the coronavirus. The specific facility chosen was Canyon Transitional Rehabilitation Center, a 73-bed facility owned by Genesis Healthcare.

However, when considering the findings of the U.S. Department of Justice, the selection appears not to have been well vetted.

Troubling trends

Officials at the DOJ referred to the for-profit franchise of nursing homes as an “unscrupulous provider” known for “grossly substandard nursing care.” The Canyon facility has been cited for serious health and safety violations. Canyon claims that homes are staffed based on the number of patients instead of medical needs, a “strategy” that runs afoul of federal guidelines.

The Canyon center also has a documented multi-year history that earned the facility a one-star health rating – the lowest possible score – from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services. Specific issues include no evidence of infection control and insufficient staffing. Some employees were deemed incompetent.

The Canyon facility has been the target of 13 lawsuits in state courts in claims that involve negligence, fraud and wrongful death. Those filings are only a portion of the 65 against Genesis Healthcare over the past four years.

Deficiencies in care for the elderly continue during an unprecedented time, as some care providers flout regulations and fail to protect their residents. If you have concerns about a vulnerable loved one in a nursing home, speak with an attorney as soon as possible.