State Releases New Data About Coronavirus Deaths And Testing At Mass. Nursing Homes

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An information sheet on the new coronavirus is posted in the lobby of the South Shore Rehabilitation and Skilled Care Center on March 6 in Rockland, Mass. (David Goldman/AP)
An information sheet on the new coronavirus is posted in the lobby of the South Shore Rehabilitation and Skilled Care Center on March 6 in Rockland, Mass. (David Goldman/AP)

Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in Massachusetts have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus — collectively, they account for almost 62% of all COVID-19 related deaths in the state. And after weeks of media pressure, the state Department of Public Health finally released figures for individual facilities, and committed to reporting this information every week.

Of the 319 nursing homes and rest homes listed on the state dashboard, more than 80 have self-reported 20 or more deaths. Of those, 19 have reported at least 30 deaths. Only 33 facilities — only about 10% — say they’ve had no deaths.

Some of the hardest hit nursing homes include:

  • The Julian J. Leavitt Family Nursing Home in Longmeadow, where 66 residents died.
  • The Mary Immaculate Nursing and Restorative Center in Lawrence, where 64 residents died.
  • The Courtyard Care Nursing Center in Medford, where 60 residents died
  • Belmont Manor in Belmont, where 55 residents died.
  • The Katzman Family Center in Chelsea, where 52 residents died.

The new data does not include information about assisted and independent living facilities or senior public housing complexes.

It also does not include state-run facilities like the Holyoke and Chelsea Soldiers’ Homes — which have had 76 and 31 COVID-19 related deaths, respectively — because DPH lists them in a separate database.

In addition to these new numbers, DPH announced which nursing homes met the testing goals laid out in the COVID-19 Nursing Facility Accountability and Support Program. The program, announced in late April, accompanied $130 million in aid. In order for nursing homes to access the money, they had to pass a health and safety audit and test at least 90% of all residents and staff for the virus by May 25.

As WBUR previously reported, testing that many residents and staff was a daunting challenge for some nursing homes because of personnel and supply shortages. But according to the state, 350 facilities met the goal, and many actually tested 100% of residents and staff.

Three nursing homes failed to meet the target because they tested enough residents, but not enough staff:

  • Blueberry Hill Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Beverly
  • Brookside Rehab and Healthcare Center in Webster
  • The Skilled Nursing Facility at North Hill in Needham

Revolution at Charlwell in Norwood also missed the goal, testing 100% of staff but only 66% of residents. Casa de Ramana Rehabilitation Center in Framingham did not test enough staff or residents.

And five facilities didn’t submit results on time:

  • Life Care Center of Merrimack Valley in North Billerica
  • Life Care Center of West Bridgewater in West Bridgewater
  • Medway Country Manor Skilled Nursing and Rehab in Medway
  • Sea View Skilled Nursing & Rehab Services in Rowley
  • Town and Country Health Care Center in Lowell
(Courtesy of the Mass. Department of Public Health)
(Courtesy of the Mass. Department of Public Health)

As for the health and safety audit, DPH reported last week that 132 nursing homes — about one-third of the state’s facilities — failed. Nursing homes were judged on a scale of 1-28, and had to score at least 20 points and meet six mandatory criteria, or “core competencies,” to pass.

Of the nursing homes that did not pass, 119 got a score of 20 or higher but missed a core competency, while 13 facilities scored below 20. These facilities will receive “targeted infection control training” from the state and be re-audited later this month.

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

At a press conference earlier this week, Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said helping nursing homes was “very much a work in progress,” but that preliminary results from the second round of audits were promising.

“I think that we are in a process of really understanding what the issues are in nursing homes, and putting the processes in place to stabilize [them and] move forward,” she said. “I feel that making the information public is very important to whatever the reforms are that we need to have for our long term care community.”

This article was originally published on May 28, 2020.

This segment aired on May 28, 2020.


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Miriam Wasser Senior Reporter, Climate and Environment
Miriam Wasser is a reporter with WBUR's climate and environment team.



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