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AARP ARIZONA Tells State Legislature: Don’t Let Nursing Homes Off the Hook

Dana Kennedy 2019 Headshot reduced size.jpg

Organization opposes proposal to give AZ long-term care facilities immunity related to COVID-19

PHOENIX, Arizona—AARP Arizona today encouraged state legislators to oppose SB1377, relating to civil liability protections during a public health pandemic, that would put in law significant liability immunity for nursing homes and other long-term care facilities related to COVID-19. A statement from AARP State Director Dana Kennedy follows:

“Long-term care facilities must remain responsible when their wrongdoing threatens the health—and lives—of residents and staff. Especially when most inspections have been suspended and in-person family visits are curtailed or even prohibited, residents are vulnerable and often unable to advocate for themselves.

“The death toll from COVID-19 in our nursing homes is a national disgrace. Nationally, 40% of deaths as a result of COVID-19 occur in nursing homes—they have died alone and afraid, without family by their sides.  In Arizona, it is likely that more than 2,000 Arizona nursing home residents have already died and regrettably, with the virus’ various mutations and delays in vaccinations, additional individuals will likely and needlessly suffer similar fates.”

“Litigation must remain an option of last resort, and no family member who has lost a loved one due to neglect or abuse pursues this course of action lightly. Arizona Legislative Leaders must stop any legislation like Senate Bill 1377 that lets nursing homes off the hook.  Not all businesses are the same and the Legislature is being asked to enact a one-size fits all to a complicated problem when applied to nursing homes and similar facilities.”

Although the Governor has extended liability immunity to long term care institutions through executive order the health and safety of Arizona’s most vulnerable citizens should not be jeopardized by putting in law immunity letting nursing homes off the hook for abuse, neglect and even death.

AARP continues to call on legislators to protect all residents and staff of nursing homes, assisted living and other long-term care facilities by:

  • Ensuring regular, ongoing testing and adequate personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Creating transparency focused on daily, public reporting of cases and deaths in facilities, communication with families when loved ones are discharged or transferred, and accountability for how billions of dollars in federal funding is spent.
  • Requiring access to facilitated virtual visitation, even when in-person visits resume.
  • Providing better care for residents through adequate staffing, oversight, and in-person access to formal advocates, called Long-Term Care Ombudsmen.

More resources for the families of nursing home residents are available at www.aarp.org/nursinghomes.

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