Independent report indicates CT DPH was not properly prepared to deal with COVID-19 in long term care facilities

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HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Governor Ned Lamont and Acting Public Health Commissioner Dr. Deidre Gifford announced Tuesday the state has received an interim report on COVID-19 in Connecticut’s long-term care facilities from Mathematica Policy Research.

The report finds the Department of Public Health had insufficient emergency response plans for long term care facilities. Mathematica’s findings indicate that six of nine positions in the Office of Public Health Preparedness were vacant, hindering that agency’s response.

Researchers said if a community saw a lot of cases, that rang true for their nursing home facilities.
Also, for profit facilities saw 60 percent more cases than nonprofit ones and staffing played a big role. If a place had fewer caretakers, more cases cropped up.

Patricia Rowan, a Mathematica researcher, said in the early days, state health officials focused on hospital capacity and nursing homes didn’t get COVID recovery facilities until mid-April when the state had already reached its peak.

“Having those facilities in place and planning now to scale them up quickly, which was one of our primary recommendations for the state, will be really crucial that the state and industry are well-positioned to handle a second wave,” she said.

WATCH: Local nursing home says it’s prepared for the pandemic

The report also found the state was reactive, not proactive in its response, including waiting for national guidance to be issued before ordering all nursing home personnel to wear masks. A lack of availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and testing was an issue as well.

In the report, Mathematica makes several recommendations aimed at preparing the state and long term care industry for a potential second wave and for reducing future infections in long term care facilities.

The recommendations are based on interviews and analysis of data from Connecticut and other comparison states.

Mathematica was retained to conduct a review of the preparation and response to COVID-19 in Connecticut nursing homes and assisted living facilities after Governor Lamont ordered the independent, third-party review on June 8.

The interim report as part of this review was delivered to the Department of Public Health on Aug. 15 and Mathematica’s final report is due Sept. 30.

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