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More Than A Third Of Mass. Nursing Homes Failed New State Audit05:13
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Belmont Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Belmont. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Belmont Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Belmont. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Of 360 nursing homes audited by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health earlier this month, only 228 were in compliance with a mandated COVID-19 infection control checklist.

Facilities were scored on a scale of 1 to 28, and to pass, had to receive at least 24 points and meet six “core competencies” — having sufficient personal protective equipment and separating residents who tested positive from the virus, for example. Of the 132 facilities that failed, 119 got a score of 20 or higher but missed a core competency, while 13 facilities scored below 20.

Long-term care facilities like nursing homes have been hard hit by the coronavirus — they account for more than half of COVID-19 related deaths in Mass. — and this new audit is part of the state’s COVID-19 Nursing Facility Accountability and Support Program. The program is tied to $130 million that's been earmarked for health, safety and staffing improvements.

"These funds will be allocated to nursing homes that are meeting a benchmark for certain criteria to ensure these privately operated facilities are working as safely as possible," Gov. Charlie Baker said at a press conference in late April.

To access the new money, nursing homes have to pass the 28-point audit and test at least 90% of all residents and staff for the coronavirus by May 25. (Senior care advocates say meeting this testing benchmark is incredibly challenging, and it’s unclear how many facilities have succeeded. A DPH spokeswoman said results will be released after the testing deadline.)

(Courtesy of the Mass. Department of Public Health)
(Courtesy of the Mass. Department of Public Health)

The 28-point infection control checklist is based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and Massachusetts DPH. Nursing homes that did not pass the first audit will receive “targeted infection control training” and be re-audited later this month.

This segment aired on May 21, 2020.

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Miriam Wasser Twitter Reporter, EarthWhile
Miriam Wasser is a reporter for WBUR's environmental vertical.

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