HARTFORD, Conn — Nursing home workers protested in front of the Department of Health Thursday, calling for the resignation of Barbara Cass. According to the state's website, Cass role at the DPH is Healthcare Quality and Safety Branch Chief.
The protesters say Cass failed to do her duty and protect the over 37,000 nursing home residents and staff since March. A petition was delivered to the DPH demanding for her removal.
Governor Ned Lamont's Chief of staff Paul Mounds released a statement on the protest and praised Cass on her work so far during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Barbara Cass and the team at DPH have been working tirelessly to address issues of quality and safety in our nursing facilities," said Mounds."Barbara Cass is a dedicated nurse and public servant who has unquestionably helped to save lives throughout this public health pandemic. She has worked directly with labor and the nursing home industry on PPE distributions, and she has inspected numerous facilities to ensure loved ones are safe. Barbara Cass was instrumental in the development of the nationally recognized COVID recovery center program and Connecticut is fortunate to have her help in guiding the state’s decision-making during this public health crisis.
COVID deaths at long term care facilities make up 71% of the COVID deaths in Connecticut.
Lamont's administration is looking to hire an independent third-party investigation that will be conducted. The state is going out to bid, plans to hire a firm quickly, and wants the investigation wrapped up before Fall.
Connecticut Chief Operating Officer Josh Geballe said, "I think this is an opportunity to learn what we can do. What we did right, what we can do better. Preparing both for a second wave and looking longer term."
The protesters also want the state to implement a regulation that would allow long-term care workers who see unsafe conditions while working or know about COVID-19 exposure to be able to express their concerns without fear of retaliation.