US: Seattle aged care home where 37 residents died of COVID-19 hit with $1M fine – and could lose Government funding – 400 homes infected

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The Life Care Center (pictured) in Kirkland, Washington, has been slapped with a US$611,000 (AUD$1 million) fine – and could be stripped of its funding by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid – after a final report by Federal and State officials found a range of problems during the coronavirus outbreak that spread through the facility.

Life Care – which operates or manages more than 200 skilled nursing, rehabilitation, Alzheimer’s and senior living campuses in 28 states – has previously rejected reports of poor care, saying that administrators and medical staff were left largely on their own, with little help from government officials and can appeal the findings.

Given the news that over 400 aged care homes in the US are now struggling to contain outbreaks – with equipment and resources being diverted to hospitals – they may have a case.

In addition to the fine – which must be paid in installments of US$13,585 (AUD$22,046) per day for six weeks – the home cannot take in new residents and officials have promised that if the home is not compliant with federal regulations by September, it will lose its government approval.

Among the findings by the state Department of Social and Health Services were that Life Care did not have an adequate infection control system in place and failed to provide quality care which led to two-thirds of the facility’s residents and dozens of staff members being infected.

The home failed “to ensure multiple residents did not experience inadequate provision of care and services”, as well as “to ensure multiple residents did not experience acute changes in condition such as respiratory distress, changes in vital signs, hospital t