Gov. Ned Lamont on Monday ordered an independent, third-party review of how Connecticut’s nursing homes and assisted living centers prepared for and responded to the coronavirus pandemic, noting the findings could be helpful if the state faces a second wave this fall.
The Democrat said proposals will soon be solicited from third-party experts. In the meantime, he expects to meet with state lawmakers to determine the full scope of the review, which will include input from the operators of the long-term care facilities, unions representing the workers, patients, health experts and others.
“Obviously that was the tragic center for our state and the other 49 states, in terms of fatalities,” said Lamont, referring to the nursing homes. “If there’s a chance that there could be a second surge later on this summer, more likely in the fall, we want to be ready.”
Lamont said “a strong outside group” will be able to focus on things like infection protocols, adequate supplies of personal protective equipment and what nursing homes might look like in the long-term.
To date, there have been more than 2,500 resident deaths from COVID-19 in nursing homes across Connecticut, a number that represents more than 60% of the state’s total deaths, which grew to 4,084 on Monday.
Connecticut took various steps to try and stem the spread of the cononavirus in nursing homes, including halting visitations, eventually testing all residents and creating so-called COVID-recovery facilities where COVID-positive patients discharged from the hospital and moved from other homes could recuperate.
Representatives of Connecticut’s two nursing home associations said they support Lamont’s call for an independent investigation, but recommended it take into account how guidance changed from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the inadequate supply of PPE, delays in testing, and the prevalence of COVID-19 in the communities where the nursing homes and assisted living facilities are located.
On Monday, a national group representing assisted living centers across the U.S. called for $5 billion in emergency federal assistance. Josh Geballe, Lamont’s COO, said state officials are monitoring the needs of assisted living centers in Connecticut, but noted nursing homes have been more financially precarious, requiring state assistance.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or lead to death.