Pandemic Studies Bolster Case For Smaller, Non-Traditional Nursing Homes.
The Next Avenue (11/22, Baker) reports the coronavirus pandemic may accelerate calls for nursing home reforms that advocates have supported “for more than 20 years.” A study in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association found that smaller and non-traditional nursing homes had “better outcomes than traditional NHs in numerous areas,” including “lower rates of COVID-19 and COVID-19 mortality,” and could be an “especially promising model as NHs are reinvented post-COVID.” Similarly, Green House Project director Susan Ryan says “interest in the model is at an all-time high.” Green Houses “usually serve 10 to 12 residents,” offering private bedrooms and bathrooms, while reducing “the number of employees coming into contact with residents.”
Connecticut Bringing COVID-19 Booster Clinics To Nursing Homes.
The AP (11/22) reports, “Connecticut is ramping up efforts to get older residents vaccinated with a COVID-19 booster shot by bringing special clinics to nursing homes, Gov. Ned Lamont announced Monday.” These “clinics will help those facilities that haven’t finished getting residents and eligible staff another dose.”
The AP (11/22, Karnowski) reports, “The Minnesota National Guard will deploy 400 members to reinforce nursing staffs at long-term care facilities that have been struggling with severe personnel shortages amid the surge in COVID-19 cases, Gov. Tim Walz announced Monday.” He “also proposed using $50 million in federal coronavirus relief funding to help these facilities hire and retain staff.”
The Minneapolis Star Tribune (11/22, Snowbeck) also covers the story.
Massachusetts Judge Dismisses Criminal Charges Against Veterans’ Home Operators Over COVID-19 Deaths.
The AP (11/22) reports Hampden, Massachusetts Superior Court Edward McDonough Jr. “dismissed criminal neglect charges Monday against two former leaders of” Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, a “veterans’ home where nearly 80 veterans died after contracting the coronavirus.” The charges stemmed from a “March 2020 decision to combine two dementia units, placing residents who were positive for the coronavirus into a space with those without symptoms.” However, McDonough ruled that there was “insufficient reasonably trustworthy evidence” to establish probable cause.
However, Reuters (11/22, Raymond) reports Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s office “is evaluating its options” and may appeal the ruling.
The Boston Globe (11/22) reports there “are still two lawsuits pending against” the facility operators – “one filed by the families of veterans who died at the home,” and one by employees alleging “that they were forced to work under ‘inhumane conditions’ as the virus spread and they helplessly watched as veterans suffered horrible deaths.”
The Boston Herald (11/22, Tiernan) provides similar coverage.
NBC News (11/22) reports, “It has been 19 months since the discovery of 17 bodies in a tiny morgue at the Andover Subacute II nursing home in Sussex County, New Jersey, in April 2020.” Though “the federal government fined the owners $221,115 for not being in ‘substantial compliance,’ and the attorney general’s office began an investigation,” the owners “are still in business.” They simply “changed the names of Andover and its sister facility and installed new signs out front. As of Friday, there were 25 residents of Andover with Covid, according to state data.” Furthermore, “the owners are still being paid by Medicare and Medicaid, the taxpayer-funded programs that pay most costs for U.S. nursing home operators.” Families of residents “are suing over the facility’s alleged lack of preparation to deal with Covid and for mingling the infected and the healthy.”
VA Releases Data On COVID-19 Deaths At Veterans’ Nursing Homes.
Politico (11/19, Kenen, Tahir, Vestal) reported that “almost a year after Congress passed a law requiring disclosure of Covid-19 deaths in veterans’ homes, the Department of Veterans Affairs finally began making public how many U.S. veterans got sick and died of the virus in special nursing homes meant to ease their final days.” Many of these homes are overseen by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The Department “now reports deaths of 1,498 home residents and 54 staff since late May 2020 at the special State Veterans Homes...and that number is likely to rise because data for some homes...is still missing or under VA review.” Politico said the VA initially resisted the data’s release, insisting “it had no legal obligation to give a home-by-home breakdown on death and infection.” However, amid “pressure from Congress, the VA said on its website that state homes will have to report ‘COVID-19 related information’ to both the VA and the CDC, and the veterans agency will in turn start making it publicly available week by week.”
Massachusetts Considering Changes To Veterans Homes After COVID-19 Outbreak.
The AP (11/19) reported, “Massachusetts lawmakers are considering changes to how the state oversees its veterans homes after nearly 80 residents died last year in one of the country’s deadliest COVID-19 outbreaks in a US nursing home.” A proposed bill “would impose new certification requirements for veteran-care facilities and elevate the Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services to a cabinet-level organization.”