Haven't They Learned? Conn. Dept. of Health Asking Nursing Homes to Accept 'COVID-Positive People'

Nick Kangadis | January 7, 2022
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Have health departments across the country not learned a thing from the debacles that was New York and Michigan placing Chinese coronavirus patients into nursing homes? Apparently not, because one state seems set on following their lead.

The Connecticut Department of Health (DPH) is now reportedly asking nursing homes to alleviate the burden of COVID-positive patients from hospitals by taking them in as transfers. 

According to the Hartford Courant:

Until Thursday, the health department required any patient transferred from a hospital to a long-term care facility to have a negative COVID test performed in the hospital within 48 hours of their transfer, but that requirement is now waived.[…]

The guidance puts significant pressure on nursing homes that are already facing severe staffing challenges and testing limitations, providers said.

There is supposedly a silver lining in the literature that states a nursing home can refuse to accept “COVID-positive people from hospitals,” as claimed by President and CEO of the Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities Matthew Barrett.

“Our initial reading based on the memo released today is that nothing in the memo undermines the nursing home’s appropriate authority to refuse an admission due to their ability to meet the care needs of the resident because of staffing shortages,” Barrett said, “and COVID status may be a factor in that assessment.”

So really, if we’re judging the situation by Barrett’s take on things, nursing homes only have a leg to stand on in refusing a COVID-positive person should they have a staffing shortage.

What happens if a specific nursing home doesn’t have a staffing shortage? Are they also allowed to refuse a patient with COVID? 

While nursing homes aren’t the only care facilities that could face the brunt of hospital overflow, the concern with putting COVID-positive people in nursing homes specifically puts people on edge after the thousands of people who died as a result of similar policies in New York and Michigan, among select other places.

For example, in New York, the Department of Health under disgraced former Gov. Andrew Cuomo was found to have underreported nursing home deaths during the pandemic by thousands.

As reported by the New York Post almost a year ago:

The bombshell findings could push the current DOH tally of 8,711 deaths to more than 13,000, based on a survey of 62 nursing homes that found the state undercounted the fatalities there by an average of 56 percent.

The report further notes that at least 4,000 residents died after the state issued a controversial, March 25 Cuomo administration mandate for nursing homes to admit “medically stable” coronavirus patients — which James said “may have put residents at increased risk of harm in some facilities.”

So you can see why some might feel trepidatious about the move by the Connecticut DPH.