The family of a deceased nursing home coronavirus victim has filed a lawsuit against the Geneva facility where she lived, which has had one of the largest outbreaks of COVID-19 in Illinois.
Nursing Home Coronavirus Victim’s Family Alleges Negligence
The wrongful death lawsuit was filed in Kane County Circuit Court by nursing home coronavirus victim Helen Osucha’s daughter, Pamela Colwell, on May 18, 2020. It names Bria Health Services, which operates nine facilities in the Chicago suburbs and near St. Louis, as the defendant.
According to the lawsuit, Ms. Osucha, 97, died on April 26 after she became “gravely ill” from the coronavirus at the Bria of Geneva nursing home in Geneva, IL. The lawsuit alleges that Ms. Osucha was not isolated from other residents or tested for the coronavirus. Her family was also not informed that she was sick. The Coroner of Kane County confirmed that Ms. Osucha had died from COVID-19 and said that she was tested by Bria of Geneva before she passed. Ms. Osucha’s health began to decline around April 15, leaving her bedridden and unable to eat or go to the bathroom by herself. She died eleven days later without her family present.
The lawsuit further claims that another resident who was diagnosed with pneumonia in late March was also not isolated or tested for the coronavirus. The resident had a cough and was given a chest X-ray that showed mild pneumonia. She was later tested for the virus in late April and died May 1, with her death certificate listing COVID-19 as the cause.
“They didn’t do anything to protect their residents. When they knew of a pending problem they didn’t follow even the Illinois Department of Public Health’s suggestions,” said the lawyer representing the family of the nursing home coronavirus victim. “Our contention is that they were grossly negligent in how they took care of their patients. That is why so many of their patients have died.”
Nursing Home Had One of the Largest Coronavirus Outbreaks
Bria of Geneva had one of the largest coronavirus outbreaks among Illinois nursing homes. More than two-thirds of its 91 residents and nearly three dozen of its 120 workers have been infected with COVID-19. At least 25 residents have died from the coronavirus, the most recent on May 15. In total, 50 residents and 33 staff members have either recovered from COVID-19 or are asymptomatic after testing positive.
While Bria of Geneva is one of the nursing homes that has been hardest hit by the coronavirus, it is far from alone in the industry. According to Illinois public health officials, at least 1,975 residents of Illinois nursing homes and long-term care facilities have died from COVID-19, roughly half of all such deaths in the state.
Nursing homes have suffered disproportionately because of reported delays in obtaining coronavirus tests and because Illinois public health officials at first did not recommend testing all residents and staff when nursing homes detected a single positive case. This was true of Bria of Geneva, which did not start conducting widespread testing until April 23, six days after its first resident tested positive for COVID-19 after being admitted to a hospital.
The lawsuit alleges that Bria of Geneva failed to follow guidance from federal and state public health officials to screen residents and staff regularly, provide sufficient supplies of personal protective equipment, isolate residents with symptoms, and enforce social distancing, all of which may have contributed to the death of the nursing home coronavirus victim.
“Bria-Geneva chose not to undertake reasonable measures to ensure its employees and staff complied with the COVID-19 preventative directives,” according to the lawsuit. By not taking those measures, the facility left “its vulnerable residents defenseless against the community spread of the virus.”
A Bria Health Services spokeswoman said that Bria of Geneva had partnered with departments of public health and followed their evolving guidance as more information about COVID-19 became known.
“Because testing was not immediately accessible, the high number of asymptomatic carriers among residents and staff created a silent enemy impossible to detect and difficult to defeat,” she said, claiming that these challenges are why Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued an order shielding healthcare providers from some lawsuits.
On April 1, Gov. Pritzker signed an executive order declaring most healthcare workers, facilities, volunteers, and other first responders “immune from civil liability for any injury or death alleged to have been caused by any act or omission” if it occurs when they are “engaged in the course of rendering assistance to the State by providing health care services in response to the COVID-19 outbreak,” unless gross negligence is proven. The order is “effective for the remainder of the duration of the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamations,” which has been extended through May 30.
Gov. Pritzker amended the executive order last week to provide legal protection only when the facilities have conducted widespread COVID-19 testing of residents and staff. He further granted immunity to facilities that have accepted coronavirus patients from hospitals or other facilities.
Chicago Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers Fighting for You
If your loved one has been mistreated or has died because of abuse at a nursing home, you may be able to pursue a lawsuit against the facility for compensation. But proving nursing home abuse can be difficult, and identifying all of the potentially at-fault parties within the time allotted by law is crucial. Those who fail to bring their cases in a timely manner may find themselves forever barred from obtaining the justice they deserve. When faced with these challenges, many families of nursing home abuse victims have sought out the assistance of the nursing home abuse attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers LLC.
With over $2 billion recovered in verdicts and settlements, GWC is one of the premier Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation law firms in Illinois. We have the experience, the determination, and the reputation of success necessary to help you and your family when you need it the most.
Contact GWC today for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with one of our Chicago nursing home abuse attorneys. You may call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with a representative at any time.