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Report finds CT long-term care facilities were not prepared for COVID-19

Mathematica Policy and Research just released its preliminary report. The firm was paid $450,000 by the state. One legislator said it was a waste of money.

HARTFORD, Conn — FOX61 has been aggressively covering the story of how COVID-19 has impacted longterm care facilities, their residents and their workers.

Now, a new report sheds light on how it got so bad — so fast.

Mathematica Policy and Research just released their preliminary report. The firm was paid $450,000 by the state. One legislator said it was a waste of money.

Rep. Catherine Abercrombie (D) Meriden said, "In all honesty, I didn’t learn anything from this today. This is everything that we’ve been saying for months to the agency. Overall, I’m kind of disappointed that we’re spending money on something that we already knew."

Rep. Abercrombie made the comments as Mathematica briefed lawmakers on their preliminary report.

The 94-page document details how Connecticut’s longterm care facilities were unprepared for COVID-19.

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The report cites a lack of PPE, lack of available testing, understaffing, out of date reporting systems, improper oversight of Infection control, and waiting too long to implement mask mandates and to stand up COVID-only nursing homes.

Matt Barrett, the President/CEO of the Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities said, "If we had known this then about the importance of the asymptomatic transmission and the importance of testing as it related to a cohorting strategy, I think probably there would have been an elevated level of importance in standing up the COVID recovery facilities much faster than they were stood up."

At the height of the wave about 50 people a day were dying at the state's longterm care facilities. The deaths represent 73% of the states COVID total.

Gov. Ned Lamont said, “We know now that limited COVID-19 testing capacity and limited scientific knowledge about the novel coronavirus during the first difficult months of this pandemic made it very challenging to contain the spread.”

The report found non-profit nursing homes fared far better than for-profit homes.

Jesse Martin, the VP for SEIU 1199NE said, "Operators making the decision to staff the facility below what is appropriate to save money, because the number one cost in a nurse home is labor cost."

Staring a possible fall wave resurgence in the face, the report also made recommendations that included, changing works shifts, keeping the same staff with the same patients, focusing on mental health as well as physical health, and better communication with families.

Patricia Rowan, a researcher for Mathematica said, "Some nursing homes for example designated 1 person to answer the phone all day and take notes and be communications liason with family members."

Mathematica will release their final report in September.

They plan to interview 70 people. So far, they have not interviewed Renee Coleman-Mitchell, the former state health director who was fired by Gov. Lamont in May.