Some months ago, an area nursing home found itself in a bad financial situation. Because of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as other reasons, the independent living portion of the facility had been losing money and fewer and fewer patients were moving in to cover the rising costs associated with keeping the business afloat. When management met to explore ways, they could cut costs, one of the suggestions was to no longer pay for ice and snow removal for the areas outside the patients’ homes. Given that the meeting took place in the heat of summer, no one was overly concerned about the possible ramifications, and all agreed that management’s austerity measure would help avert the looming budgetary crisis.
Summer turned to fall and fall to winter. As one might reasonably have predicted, ice and snow began to accumulate in the areas around the facility that previously had been cleared and/or treated with ice melt; residents began to slip and fall. Some of the injuries were not serious, but a handful of the most vulnerable patients suffered extremely serious injuries including fractured shoulders, concussions, fractured pelvis, head laceration, fractured femur, compression fractures, and lacerations to the head. Thankfully, nobody died because of their fall, but some of the injuries were permanent.
It is unlikely that the facility will accept any responsibility for the above neglect. More likely than not, management will blame the injuries on the inclement weather, the residents’ failure to make sure the area was safe, or the patients’ own failure to pay attention. At Forsythe Law, however, we understand that safety is everyone’s responsibility, and that nursing home management must be held accountable for injuries that easily could have been avoided.
So, if you, a family member, or friend is contemplating a move to an independent living facility, please review protocols for ice and snow removal with the facility management. If there are no provisions for these basic services, it might be worth considering a different institution.