On Wednesday, writing for The New York Times, trial attorney and American Association for Justice president-elect Tobias Millrood laid into Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for his zeal in trying to protect nursing homes from being sued over coronavirus deaths.
“Just three weeks ago, family and friends did their best to comfort my six siblings and me via videoconference as we mourned my mother, Sylvia,” wrote Millrood. “Our grief was compounded by the circumstances of her death: She died at 82 after contracting the coronavirus at her assisted living facility, one of the victims of an outbreak that killed 20 patients and sickened dozens of other residents and staff members.”
“While thousands of Americans perish daily from Covid-19, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, has chosen a scapegoat to distract from our government’s failures,” wrote Millrood. “Claiming that the disease will become ‘the biggest trial lawyer bonanza in history,’ Mr. McConnell is drafting legislation to protect the nursing home industry from lawsuits — even though home residents and workers represent a third of the country’s coronavirus deaths.”
“My mother became ill with Covid nearly two weeks after a nurse on her floor tested positive,” wrote Millrood “After my video chat with her on the day Mom tested positive, I realized how dire the situation had become. The aide who held the iPad wore only a thin flimsy mask, not the respirator masks we have grown accustomed to seeing on health care workers treating highly contagious patients.”
“It was clear to me then that the center was not even remotely equipped to handle the outbreak, and my concerns only grew after days of haphazard communication and lack of transparency,” wrote Millrood. “But it should have been prepared. While the magnitude of this pandemic is shocking, the fact that there is one should not be. Public health experts have been predicting this for years, and recent swine and bird flus served as test runs for today.”
“As my family grieves, eventually I will be asked whether the facility should be held accountable,” wrote Millrood “I’m certainly not thinking about that now, and truthfully I do not know where my feelings will land. Evidence continues to mount that many nursing homes put profits for their private equity investors above protecting their patients. But I also know my mom would feel loyalty to the employees, who had no choice but to work and had no protection of their own.”
“What is most important is that families deserve the right and opportunity to make this decision for themselves,” wrote Millrood. “It is morally reprehensible for lawmakers to say it is more important for corporations to profit than for nurses, caregivers and patients to be protected. Doling out immunity will drive a race to the bottom, with businesses having little incentive to stop the spread of a virus that has devastated so many families.”
“Only 10 people could attend Mom’s funeral because of restrictions on gatherings here. My brother brought some yarn that she would use when creating art projects with her granddaughter, and we each held onto the long thread so we could be connected while standing apart,” wrote Millrood. “This is what death and mourning looks like in Covid-19 America. It is a cruel irony that industries that sickened or killed thousands of people because of lack of protection are now demanding it from Congress.”
You can read more here.