Maureen McKinney’s husband, known as Buck, was one of the residents who died from the virus at the home in July 2020. “I was just horrified,” she said when she learned of the fine.
Ms. McKinney said she pushed state regulators for an investigation after witnessing testing delays and failures to isolate those who were sick, including when her husband’s roommate became ill. “I decided I was going to be relentless about it,” she said.
Prestige Care, which is headquartered in Vancouver, Wash., and operates facilities throughout the western United States, said it relied on regulators “to appropriately set and enforce the fines for instances when there are citations, and we work with them to address the issues they cite.”
The company added, “losing members of our community is difficult under any circumstance, and the Covid-19 pandemic has magnified our profound grief over the patients lost to the virus.”
When the Trump administration directed regulators to fine nursing homes on a per-instance basis, the policy became the norm, said Kelly Bagby, a senior attorney at the AARP Foundation. The lower fines were levied even in cases like at the facility in Washington State, where residents were found to be in what is called “immediate jeopardy,” at risk for serious harm.
“The corrosive effect of this change has to be underscored,” Ms. Bagby said.