Do You Work in a Nursing Home? Here Are Some Things You Need to Know about COVID-19 and Compensation
While many states are beginning to ease their COVID-19 restrictions, we must not forget that we are still in the depths of a global pandemic that is claiming the lives of millions. As many people are excited to go back to their favorite bar or restaurant, America’s frontline healthcare workers are still garbing up and walking into the eye of the storm. Among those healthcare workers, nursing home employees are especially at risk and are rightfully concerned with receiving additional compensation.
What Affect Has Covid-19 Had on Nursing Homes and those Who Work There?
According to the Associated Press, as of the end of May 2020, there were over 35,000 COVID-19 related deaths in long-term and end-of-life care facilities. At the time, this figure accounted for 1/3 of the COVID-19 related deaths in the United States. Nursing homes are currently being referred to as “breeding grounds for the deadly virus” in the media, and the term hero is being used to describe those who work there.
Are Nursing Home Workers Actually Being Treated as if they Are Heroes?
All it takes is a simple google search to find several testimonials from nursing home workers stating that this is not the case. It appears, in a desperate attempt to remain profitable, those running the nursing homes have put the safety of their staff on the back burner. Many of them are being provided inadequate protective equipment, being asked to work overtime without proper additional compensation and even being encouraged to stay at work despite displaying mild symptoms that could be linked to the Corona virus.
Why is there No Clear-Cut Answer to whether Nursing Home Workers Will Receive Compensation amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic?
This is because our country is currently operating under extremely special circumstances. People working in jobs that were not previously considered hazardous are now some of the most at risk – i.e., grocery store clerks, mass transit operators, and those working in nursing homes. Because of this, many workers’ compensation policies do not explicitly cover COVID-19 related illnesses.
Is Anything Being Done on the State Level to Help Nursing Home Workers Who Have Come Down with COVID-19?
The short answer to this is, sometimes. For example, states like Illinois, have passed legislation granting healthcare workers “rebuttable presumption” that a COVID-19 diagnosis is considered work-related. But, the issue with this is that just because healthcare workers are afforded this presumption, it does not mean their case is guaranteed to win. This is because there is nothing stopping employers from arguing that the COVID-19 case could not have been contracted because of exposure in the workplace and was likely picked up by the employee at the grocery store, or by contact with a delivery service worker, friend, family member, etc.
Can Nursing Home Workers Fight Back?
Yes, they can. It is advisable to contact a lawyer in your area if you have fallen ill due to COVID-19 while working in a nursing home. You need someone who is going to protect your interests and fight for you, even when your employer is not on your side, and even actively working with their own lawyers against you. Nursing home workers are heroes and deserve to be treated as such.