Relatives of residents at an assisted living home in southern Israel who died from the coronavirus were planning to file a lawsuit against the facility’s managers and the Health Ministry for alleged medical malpractice, Israeli television reported Saturday.
There have been five people from the Mishan facility in Beersheba who have died from COVID-19, including two on Saturday. One of them was named as Dr. Nelia Kravitz, 88, who worked as a physician at Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center for 20 years.
In total, there have been at least 42 cases of the virus among residents and staff members.
In the suit, the relatives will allege that the facility’s residents were neglected, causing them to be infected by the virus, and that medical staff and Health Ministry officials did not take steps to separate them or check for the coronavirus, Channel 12 reported.
The families also claim that some residents’ initial complaints of pain and fevers — symptoms of the coronavirus — were not taken seriously and that additional people living at Mishan and staff members were infected because quarantine measures weren’t taken, the network reported.
They also reportedly allege that virus tests weren’t conducted for residents and staff with symptoms of COVID-19.
The suit was being prepared by lawyers David and Chaya Mena and currently included relatives of one of the Mishan residents who died, with other families expected to join, the report said.
Overnight, nine people in the nursing unit at Mishan with the virus were transferred to the Dorot geriatric medical center in the coastal city of Netanya, the Ynet news site reported, a move their family members complained they were not informed about beforehand.
Since the start of the coronavirus epidemic in Israel, 10 residents of senior living facilities have died from COVID-19 and dozens more have been infected, according to the website.
Besides Mishan, the Nofim Tower assisted living center in Jerusalem has been hard hit by the virus outbreak, with four fatalities from the facility.
On Friday, an unnamed senior Health Ministry official said to Channel 13 news that his office was not equipped to deal with the growing number of outbreaks taking place in nursing homes throughout the country.
As a result, the military’s Home Front Command will be taking over management of some 700 nursing homes in the country beginning next week, though soldiers will not be interacting directly with the residents, the network said.
Besides ultra-Orthodox communities, the Health Ministry has identified senior living facilities as being the most at risk from the coronavirus, according to Channel 12.
As of Thursday afternoon, the average age of Israel’s dead from the virus was 79.8 years old.
The vast majority of the dead had underlying medical conditions, as do most senior citizens. Israeli medical authorities rarely specify which preexisting conditions the fatalities had.
COVID-19 can cause varying degrees of illness and is especially troublesome for older adults and people with existing health problems, who are at risk of severe effects, including pneumonia. But for most of those affected, coronavirus creates only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, with the vast majority recovering from the virus.
There have been 7,589 people diagnosed with COVID-19 in the country as of Saturday, with 44 people killed by the virus.