COVID-19 on the rise in Connecticut nursing homes, “we have people at risk” – Hartford Courant

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Coronavirus infections among nursing home residents are on the rise again, almost sixfold in a month.

For the two-week period ending April 12, 85 infections have been recorded among residents of Connecticut nursing homes. For the two-week period ending May 10478 infections have been reported.

Staff infections also rose, to 346 for the two-week period ending May 10, from 115 in the two-week period ending April 12.

Nursing home infections and deaths are released every two weeks in Connecticut.

The increase in COVID-19 cases in long-term care facilities reflects an increase in community spread. The state’s positivity rate Thursday was 14%, a considerable increase from late February, when the first wave of omicron subsided and the state’s daily positivity rate hovered around 2% at 3%. And since many people use rapid home tests to detect infection, some positive cases are not counted.

Hospitalizations, which in mid-March had fallen below 100, reached 369 on Thursday.

In the two weeks ending April 12, only one COVID-related nursing home resident death was recorded. In the two weeks ending May 10, 12 such deaths were reported.

Infection and death rates among residents are still much lower than they were in 2020, when thousands of people were infected and deaths in nursing homes accounted for more than 60% of deaths from to COVID-19 in Connecticut.

But as fewer people wear masks and restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the virus are removed, infections are rising again.

“I don’t see the same level of attention in the community. And my perception is that we all want COVID to be gone, we all want it to be gone. But wishing won’t get there,” said Bill White, whose family owns Beechwood Post-Acute & Transitional Care Center in New London. “I really encourage people to continue to be careful. If you have symptoms, don’t assume they are allergies – get tested. The best help care homes can get is that people in the community who monitor themselves.

White took to social media this week and appealed to those who have loved ones in long-term care facilities.

“What I wrote is basically: be careful with your privacy. Because when you visit our retirement home, your lives intersect with ours and we have people at risk,” he said. “They don’t realize that there is still a large part of the population that is very vulnerable. People don’t necessarily think about this impact.

Although hospitalization and death rates have so far been lower in this wave than before during the pandemic, White said, “there are still people who can get very sick and die. We’re just asking people to keep that in mind when making choices about what to do and where to go.

Nursing homes are still allowing visits, although most facilities require patrons to wear a mask. In recent months, many homes have stopped requiring visitors to submit a negative COVID test.

As cases rise, an already strenuous staff shortage has been made more difficult, with workers calling for the sick to self-quarantine.

“This worsens staffing, which is already – we keep repeating – the worst it has ever been in the history of the industry,” said Matthew Barrett, president and CEO of the Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities.

Some nursing homes have had to turn away potential new patients coming out of hospitals because they don’t have the staff to handle the influx, Barrett said.

And with higher COVID cases, hospital referrals have increased in some areas.

“One of the things we’re looking at is the volume of referrals we’re seeing coming out of hospitals; not necessarily COVID patients, but only the overall volume increases because COVID puts a strain on the system and then everything else starts to feel strained as well,” White said.

“Care homes remain in probably the most difficult staffing state they have been in, in my 25 years as an administrator and longer in this business. … As we get busier, it’s wonderful, but it really challenges us.

Highlighting the crisis, the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living pointed to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing that long-term care facilities have lost more than 400,000 workers between February 2020 and March 2022.

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“This far exceeds other health sectors,” the organizations wrote in a press release. “Issues related to the pandemic have led to increased burnout among caregivers. Coupled with the inability of many providers to compete with other employers due to chronic underfunding, long-term care providers are facing a crisis of historic proportions.

For now, nursing home leaders are not calling on the state to reopen the recovery centers which helped reduce the strain on facilities during surges in 2020. The centers allowed nursing homes to transfer COVID-positive residents to designated buildings for care, and they also accepted COVID-positive patients from hospitals before transferring them later to nursing homes after the patients recovered. .

“We wouldn’t say we come short of recommending recovery facilities,” Barrett said. “It’s something to always watch and keep in mind. But we don’t want to… conclude that now.

Many nursing homes hold vaccination clinics for residents and staff who wish to receive a second booster. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention AC watch 89% of Connecticut nursing home residents received an additional primary dose or booster dose of a COVID vaccine.

Anna Doroghazi, associate director of advocacy and outreach for AARP in Connecticut, said as cases and hospitalizations increase, people should be aware of how their actions affect others, especially the most vulnerable.

“It’s unfortunate that many of the same people in our society who were ignored before the pandemic continue to be ignored at this point,” she said. “I understand that people want to move on. I want to move on. But I would like us all to be more mindful of how we consider the impact of our actions on the elderly and disabled as we get back to normal.

Jenna Carlesso is a reporter for The Connecticut Mirror (https://ctmirror.org/ ). Copyright 2022 © The Connecticut Mirror.

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