In Connecticut, nursing home residents represent more than one-half of all coronavirus deaths, according to a new report by the state Department of Public Health (DPH). Deaths in nursing homes rose to 1,249 from 758 in one week. The 1,249 deaths represent 55% of the state’s 2,257 COVID-19 deaths. COVID-19 cases in nursing homes increased from 3,423 to 4,814, DPH said. Of the state’s 215 nursing homes, 150 have at least one confirmed case of COVID-19, up from 135 a week ago. Kimberly Hall North in Windsor and Riverside Health and Rehab Center in East Hartford reported the most COVID-19 deaths at 39 each, followed by Abbott Terrace Health Center of Waterbury, with 37; and Sheridan Woods Health Care Center in Bristol, with 28.
Weeks into staying home from preschool, Betty, 4, threw herself on the floor and had a screaming meltdown. She had had a Zoom meeting with her class earlier that day, and every little thing was setting her off. “We don’t accept screaming in our house,” said Betty’s mother, Laura Bower-Phipps, professor and coordinator of elementary education at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven. “So, we counted the screams, and when she hit three, my wife and I told her she needed to take a break for four minutes.” Betty took the break, came back and screamed three more times, and again went to her quiet spot for another four minutes. And so, it went on.
Nursing home resident deaths attributed to COVID-19 have more than doubled, from 375 to 768, in one week, according to the latest figures from the state Department of Public Health (DPH) released Friday night. COVID-19 cases rose from 1,713 to 3,423, the DPH said. Of the state’s 215 nursing homes, 135 have at least one confirmed case of COVID-19, up from 108 a week ago. The 768 nursing home deaths as of April 22 represent 43% of the state’s COVID-19 deaths. Kimberly Hall North in Windsor has reported the most COVID-19 deaths, with 34, according to the DPH, followed by Abbott Terrace Health Center of Waterbury, with 29; Riverside Health and Rehab Center in East Hartford with 27; and Sheridan Woods Health Care Center in Bristol, with 24.
As cases of COVID-19 surged throughout Connecticut and the nation, “a perfect storm” of circumstances rendered nursing homes unable to handle the crisis, hastening the virus’ spread and deaths, experts say. “It’s just kind of this perfect storm. It’s just the nature of the beast. This is the worst situation for a virus like this,” said Dr. David Hill, professor of medical science and director of global public health at Quinnipiac University Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine. Indeed, nursing homes care for an extremely frail population, many with underlying health conditions.
For the past month or so, Leikish Nails has engaged in an elaborate ritual the minute she gets home from her shift at Touchpoints at Manchester, a skilled nursing facility that has seen four deaths and more than two dozen illnesses caused by COVID-19. She kicks her shoes off before she walks in, sprays them and leaves them on the deck before disrobing in potentially full view of the neighbors. Her clothes immediately go in the washing machine seconds before she jumps in the shower. “I don’t hug my kids as much as I used to,” the 38-year-old Willimantic resident said. “I’m afraid to hug my kids,” she said while crying during a recent phone call.
Of the state’s 215 nursing homes, 108 have at least one confirmed case of COVID-19, the state Department of Public Health (DPH) reported Thursday as it released for the first time a breakdown of COVID-19 patients by facility. A total of 1,713 nursing home residents with COVID-19 have been identified, of whom 375 have died, the DPH reported Thursday. Those 375 deaths are 39 percent of the state’s COVID-19 deaths. The nursing home with the highest number of residents with COVID-19 is the Abbott Terrace Health Center in Waterbury, with 69; followed by the Golden Hill Rehab Pavilion in Milford with 67; and the Grimes Center in New Haven, with 58, according to the DPH data. Five nursing homes had only one patient with COVID-19: Elim Park Baptist Home in Cheshire, RegalCare at Greenwich, Guilford House, Westside Care Center in Manchester, and Skyview Rehab and Nursing in Wallingford.
Soon after Minerva Cuapio, a 48-year-old Mexican immigrant who lives in New Haven, was laid off from her job at a dry cleaner in March, she developed a headache, an itchy throat and a dry cough. Then came the shortness of breath that really worried her daughter, Izarelli Mendieta, 29, of New Haven. While trying to get her mother care, she said, they were bounced from a doctor to the state’s COVID-19 hotline to a telemedicine visit back to the hotline and then to a drive-through testing center and an emergency room visit. The family waited nine days for Cuapio’s positive test results. Izarelli’s father, Pedro Mendieta, 55, who lost a foot to diabetes, tested positive, too, but had mild symptoms.
Minerva Cuapio and Pedro Mendieta have recovered, but their daughter, who translates for her parents because they only speak Spanish, said if she could meet Gov. Ned Lamont, she would ask him to make the process easier for families like hers.
The sleepy town of Colebrook has no traffic lights, no police department, no public sewer or water system and no confirmed cases of COVID-19. “Knock on wood,” said Colebrook Board of Finance Chair James Millar. “I think we’re lucky. I wouldn’t say that we are doing anything that’s not being done by the rest of the state.”
On the Massachusetts border in Litchfield County, Colebrook is among eight small towns in the western and eastern portions of Connecticut that so far have not had a resident test positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, which has killed hundreds of thousands worldwide. Litchfield County had 446 confirmed cases and 24 deaths as of Monday afternoon.
The COVID-19 pandemic will likely result in a “huge paradigm shift” toward in-home dialysis treatments in the future, experts predict. Home “is the safest place for them to be,” said Dr. Holly Kramer, president of the National Kidney Foundation and a practicing nephrologist. In times like this, immunocompromised individuals are at increased risk of becoming ill. Roughly 85% of dialysis patients get their treatments in centers—often three days a week, and typically for several hours at a time—where other dialysis patients also are being treated, she said. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, nephrologists nationwide were urging a growing number of patients to consider at-home care, she said, and the pandemic “will push things much, much faster” in that direction.
It’s important to practice physical distancing – but not social distancing. People need connection and belonging. There are ways to achieve that online through volunteering and using new platforms to connect with friends. Low-tech sources of meaning like poetry and prayer are helpful too. C-HIT’s Colleen Shaddox talks about ways to battle loneliness with Dr. Megan V. Smith, associate professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and the Yale Child Study Center at the Yale School of Medicine.