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Independent investigation releases final report on COVID-19 in CT nursing homes, long term care facility

Mathematica Policy Research released its final report on Thursday evaluating the state's "COVID-19 preparedness and response" for CT and long term facility care.
Credit: FOX61

CONNECTICUT, USA — Mathematica Policy Research released its final report Thursday afternoon in its analysis on COVID-19 in Conntecitcut's nursing homes and long term facilities. 

The report looked at the state's "COVD-19 preparedness and response of both the State and the long term care industry and makes specific recommendations for handling future outbreaks." 

On June 8, Governor Ned Lamont announced a third-party investigation of the state's nursing homes. Connecticut's nursing homes and long term facilities have been tremendously impacted by COVID-19. 

Some of the findings included nursing homes in communities with high levels of the virus were more likely to have severe outbreaks themselves. The investigation also found "the adverse impact of visitation restrictions on health and well-being of nursing home residents." 

Connecticut has already begun to implement Mathematica's 14 out of the 15 short term recommendations.  

Governor Lamont said in a statement, 

“This report is important for our state, especially for both nursing home residents and their families, as it is a transparent look at how our state responded to COVID-19 within our long term care facilities. The novel coronavirus spread quickly and aggressively in Connecticut during the early stages of the pandemic, and we took the steps we believed were necessary at the time to control the spread and save lives. I am pleased by this independent validation of our decisions and actions, and that nearly all of the short term recommendations provided to the state have already been implemented. I look forward to future discussions with the legislature, the industry, staff, and families on the additional longer-term recommendations brought forward."

Read the 157-page report below: 

Only last week on September 28, visitation regulations were loosened for nursing homes. The rules are now allowing indoor visitation for the first time in months for outside family members. 

State Senator Kevin Kelly (R-Stratford) released his own statement on the report: 

"This confirms my view that the interim report was an indictment on the state's response to the pandemic in our nursing homes. I'm disappointed that there is no urgency to implement changes and recommendations to better protect the most vulnerable in Connecticut nursing homes. We are in session today voting on bills that have nothing to do with the issues we know put the health and wellbeing of the elderly at risk. There was a mad rush to schedule today's special session, but where's the same urgency to act on recommendations that could save lives? What's more important, the regulation of hemp or the lives of seniors? I've heard lawmakers talk about waiting until next year to implement changes. Lives are quite literally on the line. The elderly in our nursing homes do not have time on their side. We can wait no longer. Advocates warned about the severely damaging impact of social isolation and the governor did nothing for months. We have known for months that Connecticut failed nursing home residents early on in the pandemic, resulting in 74% of COVID-related deaths occurring in nursing homes – more than double the national average and third-worst in the country. We've been talking about strengthening the Connecticut Home Care Program and policies like 'Money Follows the Person' for years but those issues are put on the back burner by the majority. I look forward to reviewing the Mathematica report in greater detail and seeing what additional recommendations and findings have been updated since the preliminary report. But much of what I see so far are the exact issues advocates have been warning about for months. Connecticut must make patient-centered care a priority and guarantee that care plans address the prevention of isolation and loneliness. We have to make sure the terror, fear, and isolation that nursing home residents experienced never happens again."

Statement of Matt Barrett, President and CEO the Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities/Connecticut Center for Assisted Living (CAHCF/CCAL) and Mag Morelli, President of LeadingAge Connecticut:

"No one serving Connecticut’s older adults can rest easy or let down their guard while the pandemic continues to have a grip in our state. The pandemic is not over, noting three recent outbreaks in Connecticut nursing homes. We are all hopeful for a COVID-19 vaccine, but in the meantime, we must keep focused by implementing proven core principles of infection control and prevention, both within the nursing homes and outside in the community. In this regard, we applaud Governor Lamont’s decision to continue to support resident and staff testing to December 31, 2020, previously set to terminate on October 31, 2020.

Connecticut’s two nursing home associations are closely reviewing Mathematica’s final independent report which assessed the Covid-19 outbreak and response in our state’s long-term care facilities. We will continue to work in partnership with Connecticut state government to enhance and enforce the strategies now in place that have helped to prevent and contain the spread of the deadly virus in congregate long-term care settings, noting that the Department of Public Health has already begun to work with the nursing home sector to implement many recommendations found within the report.

The release of the Mathematica findings and recommendations is especially well-timed as Connecticut nursing homes are developing plans to implement federal nursing home indoor visitation rules that relax the severe visitation restrictions put in place at the outset of the pandemic. Even as we promote expanded indoor visitation, the nursing home associations caution that our state must remain diligent and mindful of the severe impact that this virus can have on older adults. Incremental increases in the community spread of the virus and the associated implications for nursing home residents and staff must be kept front of mind.  

Connecticut nursing homes are already implementing internal reviews, conducting surveillance testing of staff, magnifying efforts to double down on infection prevention and control practices, and participating in new training modules provided by the federal government. The Mathematica findings should supplements these efforts.

We are committed to reviewing and implementing Mathematica’s short-term and long-term recommendations as we continue to partner with Connecticut to prepare for the challenges ahead and put this virus behind us."