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Gov. Lamont Orders Independent Analysis of COVID-19 in CT’s Nursing Homes & Assisted Living Facilities

Report by Paula Antolini, June 11, 2020, 9:17AM EDT

(HARTFORD, CT) – June 8, 2020 – Governor Ned Lamont today announced that he is ordering an independent, third-party review to be conducted of the preparation and response to the COVID-19 pandemic inside of Connecticut’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The review will incorporate a top-to-bottom analysis of all elements of the pandemic and how it was addressed in these facilities, which were disproportionately impacted by the virus. The governor said he wants the analysis completed before the start of autumn in order to prepare for a potential second wave of the virus.

“Our state took proactive and innovative steps to address the outbreak in our long-term care facilities, but we must take steps to better understand how prepared the system was, and then review the steps that were taken once the virus was clearly present across the state,” Governor Lamont said. “As we prepare for the possibility of a second wave, we must be proactive in analyzing what occurred, what needs to be improved, and how we can ensure the quality and safety of facilities that some of our most vulnerable residents call home.”

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The Lamont administration will soon solicit proposals from third-party experts to conduct the review. Before it begins, the administration plans to collaborate with legislative leaders to develop a scope that ensures the review provides the state with meaningful information that can best improve the safety of patients and staff in these facilities. The awarded independent expert will be directed to work widely across state government and include input from the legislative and executive branches, as well as key stakeholders, such as the operators of long-term care facilities, the unions that represent the staff who work in these facilities, patients, health experts, and others.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on all elements of Connecticut’s health care infrastructure, but no sector had more direct and tragic consequences than the nursing homes and assisted living facilities. To date, Connecticut’s nursing homes have experienced over 2,500 resident deaths and more than 8,500 cases in a population of just over 21,000. More than 60 percent of total deaths in Connecticut have been among residents of nursing homes.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health, under the direction of Governor Lamont, took several aggressive steps to contain these outbreaks, including:

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  • Becoming one of the first states to discontinue visitation in early March;
  • Establishing dedicated COVID-recovery facilities to prevent COVID-positive patients from re-entering nursing homes;
  • Greatly enhancing inspection and monitoring of infection control practices by leveraging the Connecticut National Guard;
  • Delivering millions of units of personal protective equipment (PPE) through the state’s mutual aid program;
  • Providing a $125 million financial aid package for nursing homes to support staff payment, infection control, PPE costs, and other pandemic-related expenses; and
  • Establishing a new category of worker, the Temporary Nurse Aide, to assist with staffing shortages.

In May and June, Connecticut facilitated testing of every nursing home resident who had not previously tested positive. Governor Lamont also signed an executive order requiring the staff at all nursing homes, managed residential communities, and assisted living facilities to be tested for COVID-19 every week for the duration of the public health and civil preparedness emergency.

“We must take this opportunity to learn from the pandemic and the experience of our nursing homes to ensure we are using the best available science and quality improvement techniques to protect these residents,” Dr. Deidre Gifford, acting commissioner of the Department of Public Health, said. “We must study the epidemiology, protocols, staffing, and overall preparedness of all our facilities to provide clarity and understanding of what happened over the course of this pandemic.”

The solicitation of proposals for an outside expert to conduct the review will be released in the next several days.

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