Nursing homes plead to state government for additional financial relief due to COVID-19 pandemic

Nursing homes issued a dire warning Wednesday, with owners saying many of them could close without more help from Hartford.
State leaders heard desperate pleas from facilities and the people who live there during a virtual hearing.
At nursing homes, COVID-19 cases may be down, but the suffering continues for the people who live there.
"This fragile population has been shuttered away, out of sight; no voice and with no light at the end of the tunnel," says Elizabeth Stern, a nursing home patient's daughter.
Families begged for more ways to visit their loved ones during the hearing.
"We're going to lose folks to broken hearts and loneliness," says state Rep. Michelle Cook.
In the meantime, nursing homes issued a warning - advocates say many homes could close.
"The state must step in with additional financial relief," says Mag Morelli, of Leading Age CT.
Facilities say they're barely making ends meet with extra COVID-19 costs.
"Measures such as modifications to the semi-private rooms to allow for quarantine isolation, modifications to dining areas and related furniture purchases to ensure social distancing. Acquisition of automated screening technology," says Morelli.
Gov. Ned Lamont says nursing homes already got a raise. The state is also doing mass testing for workers.
"We wanted to make sure a lot of that went to the front-line workers; those nurses who, every day, showed up," says Lamont.
Front-line workers say the entire nursing home industry needs an overhaul.
"Many of our members who have died, died making $15 an hour. That, to me, is a moral tragedy," says Jesse Martin, of SEIU 1999 Union.
The pay is so low that many staffers say they work at multiple nursing homes. An independent auditor the state hired says that has to stop as it's a recipe for spreading COVID-19.