It has now been been almost one year since Massachusetts nursing homes locked their doors to the families of their residents. This action, while initially taken on March 13 2020 to prevent transmission of the Covid-19 virus, has turned into an obscene excuse for drawing down an Iron Curtain between residents and their families, who are desperate to know that their loved ones are not being neglected. There was some relaxation of this visitation ban in late 2020, but the conditions that a family member must meet in order to visit a loved one, remain largely very difficult. After tolerating more than one year of this pain and with vaccine rollouts now a reality left & right, this “lockout” is now no more than an excuse to, essentially, operate their businesses in secret, far from the ‘prying eyes’ of visiting family members.
Stop for a moment and try to imagine what it would be like for you as a family member forbidden from seeing your loved one who is in a nursing home or a Massachusetts “skilled nursing facility” (almost an oxymoron). How would you know he or she was being properly cared for? Answer: You wouldn’t. As a Massachusetts nursing home neglect & abuse attorney, I can assure you: Under the best of circumstances, nursing home residents, as well as some Massachusetts rehabilitation hospital patients, are often neglected and abused. The cases I’ve come to know as an attorney are horrific. And secondary to family members, is the primary effect this lockout has on residents themselves: They are lonely, frightened, often neglected, and often without anyone to advocate for them. While the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) previously allowed for some minor relaxation of these “lockout orders” in September 2020, family members as a whole still cannot easily, readily visit Massachusetts nursing home residents.
As a legal expert in this field, I have been interviewed by the media about this issue and nursing home neglect in general, and I have blogged about it previously as well. More people need to know about this cruelty and neglect that is an everyday reality for tens of thousands of Massachusetts nursing home residents, and I encourage readers of my blog to share this post with others – just click on any of the social media icons just below the title to this post at top left, above. Viral messaging like this can spread in a positive way, very quickly.
Aside from what individuals can do in terms of spreading blog posts such as this, there is an organized effort to bring this charade to end – and you can help. the organization is called The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long Term Care (“Consumer Voice”, for short). On Friday March 12th at 12:00pm ET, Consumer Voice is going to hold an online “Rally To Lift The Lockdown” commemorating the one-year anniversary of the nursing home lockout. The rally will remember those who have died, but more importantly it will provide an opportunity to hear from both residents and family members about how this lockout has impacted them. The online rally will mobilize family members, and provider an easy online mechanism to petition their state and federal legislators as well the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to safely re-open nursing homes to families.
Please, register here to attend. You don’t have to travel anywhere to attend. It couldn’t be easier. Importantly, you can also sign Consumer Voice’s petition to re-open nursing homes to families without forcing them to meet onerous restrictions. Just click here to do so.
At times like these, frustrated people often ask, “This is a massive problem. I’m just one person. What can just one person do to change this?” The Answer? For starters, you can click on the link above. Please join me in doing so; you’ll be helping the weak and the voiceless – and you may also be helping yourself. While it may be awful to think about, you yourself might be in a nursing home some day. Very unfortunately, a very high percentage of the population does.