Nursing Home Deaths

The State reported on South Carolina’s record nursing home deaths during the pandemic. As a nursing home neglect lawyer, I have seen poor care in South Carolina’s nursing homes for decades. The pandemic made it worse. A new AARP report concludes nursing homes in my home state has more deaths among nursing home vulnerable adults. AARP’s Public Policy Institute is doing the study with the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University in Ohio and using federal government figures.

South Carolina had 172 nursing home residents die of COVID-19, for a rate of 1.2 nursing home resident deaths per 100 residents. Mississippi (130 deaths) and Alabama (194 deaths) had the next highest state nursing home death rates, each with 1.03 resident deaths per 100. The national average nursing home death rate was .48 per 100 residents.

South Carolina is highest of all the states in state-by-state comparisons of COVID-19 deaths per 100 nursing home residents. The data came from August 22 to September 20. In June and July, DHEC visited all 194 licensed nursing homes and performed virus infection control surveys. South Carolina was also close to highest of all the states in COVID-19 cases per 100 nursing home residents.

South Carolina had 823 nursing home resident cases of COVID-19. That is a rate of 5.8 nursing home residents per 100 residents. Both Tennessee (1,416 cases) and Arkansas (872 cases) have a rate of 5.9 nursing home resident cases per 100. The national state average nursing home resident case rate is 2.6 per 100 residents.

The statistics cover five areas: death rates, case rates, PPE (personal protective equipment, such as mask, gloves, face shield, etc.), nursing home staff infection rates and staffing shortages. South Carolina had higher than average deficiencies than other states, said AARP in its first monthly dashboard.

Nationally, more than 85,000 nursing home residents have died from COVID since March. In late April, when DHEC began releasing nursing home COVID-related statistics, state nursing home deaths represented only about 25% of the state’s coronavirus deaths.

In South Carolina, DHEC confirmed at least 1,378 residents died from coronavirus infections. Those deaths account for about 40% of all of South Carolina’s approximately 3,500 COVID-19 deaths.

The United States, with its 225,000 dead from COVID-19, has by far the world’s highest death toll. The national AARP, which makes COVID-19 one of the priorities, has some 38 million members and is the nation’s largest group representing people over 50.