Nursing homes with higher rates of deficiencies and complaints were more likely to report cases of the novel coronavirus, a new study suggests.
Researchers found nursing homes without cases had 20% fewer deficiencies – such as lack of infection control programs, improper medication handling and fire hazard risks – than facilities that did have cases.
Additionally, nursing homes reporting COVID-19 cases had more complaints for not meeting federal regulations, including for staffing, poor health care and resident injures, filed with the state’s Department of Health than facilities reporting no cases.
Facilities with reported cases also had a higher average of Medicaid-insured residents than facilities that did not, the team from Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania says.
It comes as COVID-19 infections in Texas nursing homes more than doubled in July and deaths continue to tick up.
Nursing homes without cases had 20% fewer deficiencies – such as lack of infection control programs – than facilities that did have cases. Pictured: Lori Spencer (left) and her husband Michael Spencer (right) visits Lori’s mom Judie Shape, 81 (center), who tested positive for coronavirus at Life Care Center of Kirkland, Washington, March 11
Facilities reporting infections had 5.7 complaints filed against them with state health departments compared to four complaints for those that didn’t. Pictured: A cleaning crew exits the Life Care Center in Kirkland, March 11
At least 7,000 nursing home residents and staff members across 4,100 US facilities have died since the start of the pandemic.
This makes up nearly 20 percent of the more than 148,000 Americans deaths.
In March, American Health Care Association President Mark Parkinson called coronavirus an ‘almost a perfect killing machine’ for elderly patients.
This is because the virus spreads very quickly among senior citizens, and particularly in those with underlying health conditions who live very closely together.
For the study, published in JAMA Network Open, the team looked at data from state governments and public health departments that reported nursing homes with COVID-19 cases.
Data was only available for 23 states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon and Tennessee.
Of the total 8,943 nursing homes, there were 3021 – 33.8 percent – who reported COVID-19 cases by April 29.
Facilities that reported COVID-19 cases had more average health deficiencies than those that didn’t, 67 compared to 52, respectively.
What’s more, nursing homes with coronavirus cases an average of 5.7 complaints filed with its state’s department of health compared to four for those without cases.
Additionally, facilities reporting cases 59.3 percent of Medicare-covered residents compared to 56.7 percent of facilities not reporting cases.
‘Nursing homes care for aging adults with chronic conditions and have experienced years of declining revenues and financial instability,’ the authors wrote.
‘These factors have made many facilities ill prepared for a pandemic, and stemming the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes will not be easy.’
It comes as coronavirus infections in Texas nursing homes continue to skyrocket.
As of Monday, 8,291 cases have been confirmed in nursing homes, which is four-fold the number of cases reported in June, reported The Texas Tribune.
More than 75 percent of The Lone Star State’s 1,215 nursing homes have reported at least one case, up from about half that had reported at least one by June.
Additionally, one-third of the more than 5,000 deaths in Texas have been nursing home residents.
Assisted living facilities are not doing much better with 924 cases in total after just 267 were reported in June, according to the Tribune.