Families sue Pennsylvania nursing home in wake of 73 COVID deaths

The families said staff failed to take proper measures to stem the outbreak.

The families of some of the 73 residents residents who have died from COVID-19 while living at a Pennsylvania nursing home have filed a lawsuit against the facility, accusing it of recklessly handling the virus outbreak.

The families of 10 deceased residents teamed up with the families of five current residents at the Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center in a lawsuit against the nursing home, saying staff failed to take proper measures to stem the outbreak.

"They show clear evidence of poor infection control, poor training, poor supervision, transparency problems, cross-contamination, lack of supplies -- it goes on and on," Bob Daley, one of the attorneys representing the families, said Thursday. "What happened at Brighton was nothing short of a tragedy. ... Brighton as an entity systematically failed its residents."

The lawsuit names Brighton Rehab's owners and its medical director and accuses leaders of "managerial and operational negligence, carelessness, recklessness and willful and wanton conduct," according to the complaint. The suit seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages.

Brighton allegedly failed to separate infected residents from the general population, allowed infected workers to continue working and shared misinformation about the outbreak to family members and health officials, according to the suit.

Lawyers for the residents also claimed Brighton was severely understaffed during the pandemic, which forced workers to "cut corners while struggling to care for hundreds of residents during the pandemic," according to the suit.

In response to the lawsuit, a Brighton spokesperson denied the claims and said the facility followed the guidance of local governmental health officials throughout the pandemic.

"Right now, the facility's sole focus remains on ensuring the health and well-being of all residents and staff," the spokesperson said in a statement.

The facility has been cited for infractions multiple times by the Pennsylvania Department of Health since the coronavirus outbreak, including for improper hand-washing, lack of personal protective equipment, improper distancing of residents and the improper use of hydroxychloroquine. Followup reports show these violations have been corrected.

A federal investigation of the facility initiated by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar in May resulted in fines of $62,580 for "deficiencies with basic infection-prevention protocols."

The lawsuit comes as state officials grapple with the rising infection rates and fatalities. The Pennsylvania Department of Heath reported over 2,063 new cases Thursday, marking one of the state's highest single-day case counts since the start of the pandemic. The statewide total since the start of the pandemic stands at 188,360.

Pennsylvania also reported 30 additional deaths on Thursday, bringing the statewide death toll to 8,592.

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