Nursing Homes Deaths Rise; 5 Facilities Cited By DPH

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The number of COVID-19 cases in nursing homes increased to 6,947 from 6,008  in a week, and nursing home deaths now represent 59.8% of all COVID-related deaths, according to the latest figures released by the state Department of Public Health (DPH) Thursday night.

Also, DPH released the first inspection reports done at nursing homes during the pandemic and cited five for infection-control violations and poor practices for use of personal protective equipment (PPE), among other violations.

COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes rose to 1,927 from 1,627 in one week.  Of the state’s 215 nursing homes, 163 (76%) have at least one confirmed case of COVID-19, up from 160 a week ago.

Riverside Health and Rehab Center in East Hartford reported the most COVID-19 deaths with 54, followed by Kimberly Hall North in Windsor, with 43; Abbott Terrace Health Center of Waterbury, with 41; and Shady Knoll Health Center in Seymour, with 35.

The nursing home with the highest number of residents with COVID-19 is Litchfield Woods in Torrington, with 127, followed by Silver Springs Care Center in Meriden with 116, Abbott Terrace Health Center, Waterbury, with 115; Riverside Health and Rehab Center in East Hartford with 111, according to the DPH data.

On the inspections, the five facilities with infection-control and other violations include Aaron Manor, Chester; Shady Knoll Health, Seymour; Whispering Pines, East Haven; New London Sub-Acute and Nursing, Waterford; and Orange Health Care Center, Orange. (click the nursing home names below to view each inspection report.)

On April 26 inspectors found Aaron Manor had deficiencies in infection prevention and control practices, including failing to frequently clean touched surfaces, such as Kiosk screens and door knobs.  Housekeepers were observed carrying soiled gowns for cleaning without the benefit of clothing protection, eye protection and or specialized N-95 mask.  The facility has reported 10 deaths and has 29 residents with COVID-19 as of Wednesday.

At Shady Knoll, an April 29 inspection found that the facility failed to isolate residents known to have COVID-19 from residents that were not confirmed to have the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus. The facility was also cited for failing to implement policies on extended use of PPE, in line with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (CDC). The facility reported 35 deaths and has 84 cases.

In April, several spot inspections were conducted at Whispering Pines. Inspectors found that the nursing facility failed to separate residents  at least seven residents with COVID-19 from those who were not afflicted with the virus. The facility also failed to implement a plan for early detection for residents, including testing, who were showing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, the inspection report said.  The East Shore Health District advised the facility to place residents who had tested positive for COVID-19 together, but the advice was not followed, according to the citation. Whispering Pines reported 59 cases, 25 deaths.

In an April 2 inspection at the Orange Health Care Center, inspectors found that the facility had failed to develop and implement policies related to the extended use of PPE in a facility with residents known to have COVID-19. According to the inspection report, staff members were not required to change their PPE when moving between caring for COVID-19 patients and those that were suspected but not yet proved to have COVID-19.  Orange Center has 43 cases, three deaths.

During an April 25 inspection at New London Sub-Acute and Nursing, inspectors found that the facility had failed to identify an area where visitors and staff could be monitored when entering the building; found PPE supplies spread all over the floor and a table in the registered nurse supervisor’s office; observed a staff member walking into a break room hallway wearing PPE that should have been discarded prior to entering the hallway; observed a nurse standing closer than 6 feet and removing a face mask while talking to the surveyor inspecting the facility; observed a staff member placing used PPE gloves on a clean laundry cart rather than disposing of them in the trash; observed PPE gowns to be worn inside COVID-19 patients’ rooms hanging on the outside of the rooms’ doors rather than being kept in the rooms; observed a housekeeper walking into the break room wearing a face shield, which was required to be removed prior to entering the break room; and observed a housekeeper walking into the facility without a face mask on.  The Waterford facility has 81 cases, four deaths.

From 2017-2019, Whispering Pines had been cited three times for infection-control violations and Orange Health Care Center twice, according to a C-HIT analysis of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) inspection reports.

In March, the governor signed an executive order granting nursing homes immunity from lawsuits while the COVID-19 public health emergency is in effect. The order also covered hospitals and health care workers.

This week the state said that all nursing home residents – about 25,000 – would be tested for coronavirus by the end of the month.

Nursing homes have been ordered to report daily coronavirus deaths to DPH or face a $5,000 fine for each reporting violation.  The order follows a number of discrepancies in reporting and an inability to match deaths reported by the state medical examiner or death certificates. The Connecticut National Guard has assisted the DPH in inspecting the state’s 215 nursing homes  and has also helped distribute protective gear to facilities.

Due to a surge in cases of COVID-19 among nursing home residents, the governor last month raised Medicaid payments for the state’s 215 nursing homes by an additional 5%, on top of the initial 10% rise announced previously.  The funds were paid this week.

The state also released a list of assisted living facilities with COVID-19 residents.  As of May 13, there were 75 facilities with 874 cases, and a total of 276 deaths.  You can view the list and details by clicking here.

Below is the latest list of nursing home cases and deaths as of May 13:

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