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Area nursing homes report COVID-19 deaths

Area nursing homes report COVID-19 deaths

Seven local nursing homes report that 27 residents have tested positive for COVID-19 and five have died from the disease, according to information released by the state this week.

As of April 14, the highest number of cases was at Montowese Health and Rehabilitation Center in North Haven, which reported 10 active cases and two deaths. The Curtis Home of Meriden reported six infected patients and one death, the Quinnipiac Valley Center in Wallingford reported six cases and one death, The Summit at Plantsville reported three cases and one death, Skyview Rehabilitation and Nursing in Wallingford had one resident test positive, and no deaths and Elim Park of Cheshire reported one case and no deaths.

The figures were supplied by the Department of Public Health.

Masonicare of Wallingford has reported two cases of coronavirus infection and one death at its assisted-living facility Ashlar Village, which isn’t represented in the data.

Statewide, there are 375 reported deaths in nursing homes to date, accounting for nearly 40 percent of the state’s total fatalities. The number of residents testing positive is 1,713, which represents about 11 percent of all coronavirus cases.

The release of the information comes as the state struggles to open recovery centers for nursing home patients testing positive for COVID-19. The Quinnipiac Valley Center in Wallingford was recently renovated to accept 34 patients, but the vacant Westfield Rehab Center in Meriden has no timeline for opening, state officials said this week. Masonicare has transformed vacant space at its Wallingford facility into a COVID-19 treatment and recovery center that can accept about 15 patients.

The Department of Public Health released the nursing home data amid pressure for transparency from family members and the media. The state’s records show 108 facilities, or over half of the state’s nursing homes, with at least one COVID-19 positive result. Nursing homes in Waterbury and in Fairfield County had case counts in the double digits.

Matthew Barrett, president and CEO of the Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities, defended nursing home operators and staff in a recent interview with The Connecticut Mirror.

“The data continues to show that COVID-19 is making its way indiscriminately into nursing homes in Connecticut and across the nation,” he said. “This means that nursing home operators and employees who are doing all the right things will have to battle the virus through no fault of their own.”

State health care officials have said the nursing homes have the capability to isolate COVID-19 patients who don’t need to be hospitalized from the rest of the nursing home population.

A nursing home in Sharon has begun accepting COVID-19-positive residents and a second facility — in Bridgeport — will begin welcoming those residents Monday, officials said.

The facilities are part of a plan by nursing home leaders and the state to separate residents suffering from the virus from healthy ones.

The state designated four sites for the sick residents. Two are existing nursing homes — the Sharon Health Care Center and the Northbridge Health Care Center in Bridgeport — and two are defunct facilities that are being cleaned and reopened. In addition to Westfield in Meriden, the state also reopened a center in Torrington.

Athena, which owns the Sharon and Bridgeport nursing homes and is managing the two formerly vacant buildings, said COVID-19 positive residents began arriving at the Sharon location Thursday, according to The Connecticut Mirror.

Healthy residents have been transferred out of that facility this week and are continuing to be moved out.

The Torrington facility is staffed, but new employees still must attend an orientation and supervisors are waiting on equipment. It is expected to begin accepting sick residents on Tuesday.

Asked by The Connecticut Mirror Thursday why it took more than a month to get the facilities ready, Josh Geballe, Lamont’s chief operating officer, pointed to the complexity of arranging separate nursing homes and said a shift in guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also delayed efforts.

“There are a lot of stakeholders involved and this is a very complicated environment … very at-risk patients, getting all the right frameworks in place, the right financial models in place,” he said. “Also … we’re still learning new things. We had to take a change of direction about a week or a week and a half ago, when the CDC updated their guidance to indicate that COVID-19 could be transmitted up to 48 hours before someone starts exhibiting symptoms. That changed the plan significantly in terms of what we can assume and what we should not assume relative to our existing population.”

Information from the Connecticut Mirror was used in this story.

mgodin@record-journal.com203-317-2255Twitter: @Cconnbiz

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