However, COVID-19 has been particularly brutal to the elderly residents at long-term care facilities in Oregon. There is a high risk of disease transmission due to the tight quarters and employees who serve different residents at every facility. There is also an increased risk of spread because of COVID’s rapid and furious assault on vulnerable populations, such as the elderly. The state’s data reveal that more than 1,700 people in Oregon’s long-term care facilities have died from diseases linked to COVID. More than 200,000 long-term care residents have died due to COVID-19 nationwide. Long-term care facility breakouts account for one in three COVID mortality during the pandemic.
The majority of care institutions implemented stringent safeguards to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These safeguards saved lives when they were maintained. When COVID-19 safety requirements were disregarded or broken, several care facilities had extremely high rates of fatalities. In any case, the Oregon Department of Human Services swooped in to assist stopping the spread of COVID and check that the care facilities were following infection-control guidelines. Regardless of the causes of the outbreaks, as per the Eugene Weekly, Oregon has a double standard for holding long-term care institutions responsible for breaking the regulations. There have been severe consequences for the failures of certain long-term care institutions that enabled lethal epidemics to occur. However, many institutions escaped with little or no repercussions.
More than 625 COVID-related fatalities have occurred in Oregon’s federally regulated nursing facilities. Eugene Weekly and the Catalyst Journalism Project acquired information showing that state authorities charged nursing facilities with civil fines totaling more than $1.5 million. Because of federal regulations, the Oregon Department of Health Services (“DHS”) can punish rule-breaking facilities up to hundreds of thousands of dollars each day they fail to address the problem. However, Oregon DHS has consistently refused to impose civil fines on long-term care institutions that solely follow state regulations. Civil fines against these state-licensed care institutions were initially avoided by DHS authorities. Consequently, more than 1,100 people living in these institutions lost their lives to COVID epidemics. Only $9,500 in civil fines were imposed.
According to the Eugene Weekly, officials from the Oregon DHS have also refused to probe the care facilities’ incapacity to manage dangerous epidemics. In certain situations, the DHS even refused to penalize care facilities even after inspectors saw care facilities breaching COVID safety requirements while claiming residents’ lives. As per reports, investigators arrived in Table Rock and found, among other breaches, employees strolling about without masks, which led to the deaths of 19 individuals. There was no civil punishment imposed by the state in that case.
There have been many outbreaks of COVID in over 300 long-term care facilities. Despite frequent breakouts, experts say it is not always an indication that the hospital breaks regulations. The failure to learn from the first phase of breakouts or the failure of state authorities to enforce COVID safety requirements could lead to dangerous repercussions in handling outbreaks in the future for care facilities in Oregon.