Nursing home administrators offer mixed answers for COVID outbreaks, deaths
In a virtual hearing Tuesday, nursing home operators were grilled about why so many patients died of COVID-19.
Nursing home operators said outbreaks were unavoidable.
"The bad actor is the virus, and not anything nursing homes did, or didn't, do," said Matt Barrett, with the Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities.
Sen. Matt Lesser replied, "I appreciate that answer. I think there are thousands of families in Connecticut who will not."
Nursing home owners said they suffered from a lack of testing, but insisted they had adequate protective gear. Workers disputed that, and told lawmakers PPE was so short that they had to wear garbage bags.
"I'm going to just paint a picture," said Tanya Beckford, a certified nursing assistant. "We came in, in the morning, we had one gown to wear the whole day. And the gown, you could literally blow on it and it would rip."
SEIU 1999 Union President Rob Baril also expressed frustration.
"We have this Orwellian rhetoric around essential workers. They damn sure have not been treated like they're essential. They've been treated like they're expendable in far too many cases," he said.
But some facilities had no COVID-19 cases at all. One nursing home says they stocked up on months worth of PPE and required staff to wear surgical masks and face shields. They were also strict with people outside of the nursing homes coming into the facilities.
"We ask all of the people who are visiting to keep temperature logs daily, and that we do COVID tests 24 hours within their visit," said Michael Smith, of LiveWell Dementia Specialists.
Yet, other facilities say they did all of that and still got ravaged. They insist it wasn't a lack of planning.
"Constant conversations, trying to understand, trying to do what was right, trying to keep track of the guidance," said Mag Morelli, president of LeadingAge CT. "The guidance was continuously changing."
One thing everyone did agree on was that nursing home workers need better testing and monitoring, to make sure they don't unknowingly bring the virus with them to work.