AUGUSTA, Ga.– As the coronavirus pandemic sweeps local nursing homes in the two-state, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a new order to protect them from being sued.
The I-Team told you this week that three Georgia nursing homes in our area have confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Our newsroom continues to field calls from concerned families asking about nearly a dozen nursing homes on both sides of the river.
Right now, DHEC does not release the names of nursing homes where there are confirmed coronavirus cases, citing HIPAA limitations.
But that’s a different story in Georgia. Georgia does and Kemp went further this week with his new emergency order. The order is aimed to protect Georgia’s hospitals and medical workers from being sued for their level of care in the pandemic.
Hospital lobbyists say the order was critical since the coronavirus is new and there is so much not known about how to treat it properly.
But we found the order extends to include rehab facilities and nursing homes — where the standard of care and ability to contain infectious disease outbreaks have been under the microscope for years nationally and locally.
South Carolina’s refusal to even disclose the names of nursing homes with positive cases makes them one of the few states in the country not providing that transparency.
“Why are they doing this, why are they reluctant and refusing? We’ve speculated for some time,” Brian Lee, the executive director of Families for Better Care said. “It’s about protecting the providers’ interests over the residents and their families, and now know that speculation is proving true — to protect them from lawsuits.”
“It looks to me that state officials are prioritizing the providers’ protections over that of families and the residents who are living in these buildings.”