FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- COVID-19 hit a lot of nursing homes particularly hard, especially in the early stages of the pandemic.
In the Central Valley, the facility with the most cases and deaths is run by Dycora.
At Dycora's seven Fresno County facilities, 470 patients were infected with COVID and more than 80 died, including 49 at the downtown Fresno location.
Then there are the employees. More than 280 of them also got sick.
Those employees couldn't come to work and understaffing is a common theme in four lawsuits blaming Dycora for patients' deaths.
Attorneys say staffing shortages were an issue before COVID, putting patients in harm's way with prolonged neglect and abuse.
The lawsuits say some employees stopped showing up to work after the first reports of 30 confirmed cases at the downtown facility.
So as the virus arrived, the understaffing problem exploded.
"Can you hold the nursing home responsible for something that was new, innovative and unknown," says Legal analyst Tony Capozzi. "Well, if they're understaffed and didn't provide the care that should've been provided, then yes, you can."
Capozzi says it's no surprise to see lawsuits aimed at skilled nursing facilities where patients died from COVID.
But he says the lawsuits are far from a slam dunk because most of the elderly people who died in skilled nursing facilities had pre-existing conditions.
"You have to make the connection of the death which was caused by COVID, but was it related to the negligence of the nursing home," he said. "That's going to be very difficult to show."
We reached out to Dycora administrators for a response, but they didn't return calls, texts, or emails.
They'll have to respond in court by September.
Fresno County skilled nursing facility facing multiple lawsuits
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