Beyond the fatalities, 117 residents and 42 staff members have since tested positive, Genesis HealthCare, which operates the nursing home, said in a statement to The Washington Post.
“We care for largely frail, elderly seniors with multiple health conditions who are already more susceptible to the common cold, not to mention a deadly and highly contagious virus like this one,” Richard Feifer, Genesis HealthCare’s chief medical officer, said in the statement. Feifer said that the average age of the residents who died at the Medford facility was older than 85.
Nursing homes and other long-term-care centers across the country have been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus, which poses greater risk to elderly people and those with underlying health conditions. According to The Post’s recent analysis of state and federal data, more than 1 in 6 facilities nationwide are now reporting cases of covid-19 among residents or employees, with a death count believed to be in the thousands. A searchable database maintained by The Post lists more than 2,700 Medicare-certified nursing homes with at least one reported coronavirus case.
But The Post analysis indicates that the numbers are still incomplete, as some states have not released the names of nursing homes where outbreaks are occurring or have occurred, among other discrepancies in data reporting. In April, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a mandate for nursing homes to report cases to families, patients and the federal government. Officials said the information would be made public but did not specify when, The Post reported.
Of the states that have publicly shared data from long-term-care centers amid the ongoing pandemic, Massachusetts’s death rate at those facilities is among the highest in the nation, the Globe reported, citing figures compiled by the Kaiser Family Foundation. In Massachusetts, such facilities account for about 60 percent of the state’s coronavirus-related deaths, according to the data. As of early Tuesday, Massachusetts had more than 69,000 confirmed cases and nearly 4,000 reported deaths overall.
Feifer stressed Monday that the Courtyard Nursing Care Center — one of several facilities in the state reporting a deadly coronavirus outbreak — has adhered to, and in some cases gone beyond, protocols and guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
Now, residents and patients are screened for symptoms three times a day while all staff members are also checked and have their temperatures taken upon entering the building, Feifer said, noting that the center’s employees have been wearing full personal protective equipment since March 26. Additionally, visits have been largely restricted to what Feifer described as “exceptional circumstances, such as end-of-life situations.” In the meantime, he said the center has set up videoconferencing for residents and their families.
Still, family members told the Globe that they remain concerned about the safety of their loved ones.
Reyita Ramos said her 94-year-old mother, who has been a resident of the nursing home for four years, recently tested positive for the coronavirus. Ramos has asked for protective gear to be donated to the facility, the Globe reported.
“My heart goes out to these people and I just want them to get all the support they can get,” Ramos told the Globe. “I feel like my mom and those residents deserve it because we are not out of the woods, not with this virus.”
In an effort to help eldercare centers struggling to contain the spread of the virus, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced on April 27 that the state will spend up to $130 million on nursing facilities over the next two months. The funding is intended to support staffing costs, infection control and personal protective equipment, according to a news release from the governor’s office.
In Monday’s statement, Feifer pledged that the Medford facility and its administrators “are working around the clock to keep our patients and residents healthy and as safe as possible.”
“We are doing everything in our power — and everything medical experts know as of at this time — to protect our patients, residents and employees,” he said.