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COVID-19 Nursing Home Audits Show Progress, Concerns

A worker at a nursing home sanitizes a handrail. (David Goldman/AP)
A worker at a nursing home sanitizes a handrail. (David Goldman/AP)

More than four dozen nursing homes were flagged for concerning results in at least one category of a COVID-19 audit conducted in late May, the Baker administration announced Wednesday, adding that dozens more that previously received similar warnings fared well on follow-up investigations.

Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said 49 of the 230 nursing homes audited between May 18 and May 29 "remain in the red," indicating they failed to meet one or more core measures of competency for responding to the highly infectious virus that has swept through facilities across the state.

Improper use of personal protective equipment was the most common issue within nursing homes through the first two rounds of audits, Sudders said.

Another 180 facilities passed the inspection by scoring at least a 24 on the 28-point checklist to prevent infections, while one other was in adherence but still warrants reinspection. Sudders said facilities that consistently rate poorly on the inspections and may endanger residents "will not be eligible for continued enhanced funding and subject to additional consequences, including potential termination from Medicaid receivership and other sanctions."

Wednesday's announcement covered the second of four rounds of audits the administration launched to track how well Massachusetts nursing homes are preventing COVID-19 risks. All 132 facilities that were not in compliance in the first audit were tested again in the second round.

"Between the first and second audits, all facilities in the red received targeted infection control training, and they were also prioritized for additional support, including our rapid response team or crisis management supports," Sudders said at a press conference.

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