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Governor Lamont calls for an independent review of COVID-19 in Connecticut nursing homes and assisted living facilities

More than half of the state's COVID-19 related deaths were nursing home residents.
Credit: FOX61

HARTFORD, Conn — Governor Ned Lamont announced on Monday that an independent, third-party review will be conducted regarding the preparation and response to the COVID-19 in Connecticut's assisted living facilities and nursing homes. Lamont said he wants the analysis completed before the start of fall to help prepare for the potential second wave of the virus. 

“Our state took proactive and innovative steps to address the outbreak in our long-term care facilities, but we must take steps to better understand how prepared the system was, and then review the steps that were taken once the virus was clearly present across the state,” Governor Lamont said. “As we prepare for the possibility of a second wave, we must be proactive in analyzing what occurred, what needs to be improved, and how we can ensure the quality and safety of facilities that some of our most vulnerable residents call home.” 

The Governor's administration will begin to look for third-party experts to begin this thorough analysis of the facilities. The administration said it will work with legislative leaders to develop a scope to make sure the third-party experts provide useful information on how to improve the safety of the patients and staff. 

Connecticut nursing homes and assisted living facilities have been particularly hit hard by the pandemic. More than half of the state's COVID-19 related deaths were nursing home residents. 

“We must take this opportunity to learn from the pandemic and the experience of our nursing homes to ensure we are using the best available science and quality improvement techniques to protect these residents,” Dr. Deidre Gifford, acting commissioner of the Department of Public Health, said. “We must study epidemiology, protocols, staffing, and overall preparedness of all our facilities to provide clarity and understanding of what happened over the course of this pandemic.”

Mag Morelli, President of LeadingAge Connecticut and Matt Barrett, President and CEO the Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities and the Connecticut Center for Assisted Living (CAHCF/CCAL) released a joint statement on Monday in support of the Governor's independent review:

Connecticut’s two nursing home associations support Governor Lamont’s call for a comprehensive, independent, and timely analysis of our state’s COVID-19 response.   The associations reinforce the importance of the Governor directing resources to this effort and appreciate Commissioner Gifford’s comments that we must gain clarity and understanding of what happened over the course of this pandemic.  It is essential that we thoroughly evaluate our state’s response in a non-biased and inclusive way so as to learn from science and help to prepare for a potential second wave of the virus.

The state’s experience is part of a national pandemic and in such, our preparation and response was influenced not only by our state’s efforts, but also by the federal response. As such, the nursing home associations recommend that the analysis include the role of the changing CDC’s guidance, the inadequate PPE supply and the delay in testing.  In addition, since the goal of this study will be to learn and prepare for the potential fall resurgence, it must include consideration of the positive role that the Covid-19 Recover Centers will achieve to reduce the spread of the virus in anticipate of the fall resurgence.  

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Finally of note, academic evaluations of the outbreaks in nursing homes has been underway at Brown University, Harvard University and the University of Chicago and their research is pointing to geographic location as a key factor in determining intensity of the outbreaks. Specifically, the referenced academic and independent studies (see attached) have shown that population density and community prevalence of COVID-19 in the areas where congregate settings serving the elderly, such as nursing homes and assisted living communities, are located, are key characteristics that explain the high presence of COVID-19 within these settings. In this regard, the nursing home associations also recommend that the independent review evaluate the relevance of community prevalence and the role that reducing overall COVID-19 prevalence in Connecticut will make in the ongoing overall state strategy to reduce the spread of the virus in these congregate settings.  

The Governor's office said they will begin to ask for proposals in the next several days.

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