Government Health

Coronavirus Claims 276 Lives in CT Assisted Living Facilities

A supporter of the health care workers at Kimberly Hall North show their appreciation for their work at the skilled nursing facility with a drive-through tribute Tuesday afternoon. The facility has been particularly hard hit with the COVID-19 virus with over 40 deaths since late March. Photo credit: Cloe Poisson, CTMirror.org

This is the first time during the pandemic cumulative numbers have been posted. Four residents of West Hartford assisted living facilities were among those who died.

By Keith M. Phaneuf and Jenna Carlesso, CTMirror.org

West Hartford-specific information provided by Ronni Newton, We-Ha.com

Figures released for the first time Thursday showed that the coronavirus has struck hard in Connecticut’s assisted living facilities, claiming the lives of 276 elderly residents since the pandemic began and infecting 874 others.

Thursday’s report from Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration also showed another 300 COVID-19-related deaths among nursing home residents over the past week, bringing that total to 1,927.

Deaths among this group rose 15% between May 6 and May 13 — the third consecutive week that fatalities grew at a slower pace.

“Today’s released data shows that the deadly virus still has hold on our Connecticut nursing homes,” representatives of the assisted living and nursing home facilities wrote Thursday night in a joint statement.

“Like nursing homes, it is important to understand that the spread of COVID-19 is a reflection of the pernicious character of the virus and is in no way a reflection of the quality of the assisted living facility or the care it provides,” added Mag Morelli, president of Leading Age Connecticut; Matthew Barrett, president of the Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities; and Christopher Carter, president of the Connecticut Assisted Living Association. “Assisted living communities are vibrant, active communities, but still the people they serve are typically more vulnerable to the virus … just as nursing homes residents are.”

The latest report includes data on 75 assisted living facilities, with a collective 6,890 beds, affected by the coronavirus. It does not identify how many residents are in those communities. The 276 deaths represent 4% of the residential capacity of these 75 centers.

Three West Hartford assisted living facilities appear on the list. In total, 12 of their residents have tested positive for COVID-19, and four have died.

Columns (from left) indicate number of beds, number of cases, laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 deaths, and number of probable COVID-19 deaths as of May 13.

Connecticut has more than 130 assisted living facilities. A spokesman for the Department of Public Health said those not listed in Thursday’s presentation have reported no cases of the coronavirus.

The Lamont administration has struggled to collect coronavirus-related data from assisted living facilities, which serve residents age 55 and older who need some assistance with daily living activities but not necessarily the skilled care provided by a nursing home.

Ridgefield Crossings in Ridgefield recorded the highest number of confirmed and probable COVID-19-related deaths among assisted living facilities, with 26.

Spring Village at Stratford logged 14 probable and confirmed fatalities. The Village at Buckland Court in South Windsor had 13 deaths. And two facilities – Maplewood at Danbury and The Atrium at Rocky Hill – each recorded 12.

While the majority of assisted living centers reported death tolls in the single digits, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases at many facilities reached the double digits.

Ridgefield Crossings also recorded the highest number of residents infected with the disease – 49. The Village at Buckland Court logged 37 COVID-19 cases, and Spring Village at Stratford and the Village at East Farms in Waterbury each had 35. Benchmark Senior Living at Hamden and The Linden at Woodbridge both reported 32 cases.

The state doesn’t regulate assisted living facilities; it regulates the agencies that provide medical services to residents of these managed-care communities. And though nursing homes have been reporting COVID-19 data weekly since early April, a parallel system for assisted living communities took longer to assemble.

But after an outbreak forced state and local health officials to dispatch additional medical personnel to Spring Village at Stratford on April 18 and 19, Lamont ordered these centers to disclose pandemic-related health statistics weekly to the state. 

The initial reports, compiled April 23-29 and April 30-May 6, offered no data on assisted living residents who had died from the coronavirus. And these reports – at least partially –  were statistical snapshots in time, rather than tallies reflecting cumulative data, as the nursing home reports have done.

For example, the first assisted living report included data from 54 facilities and found that 662 residents either had tested or were presumed positive for COVID-19.

The second report included data from 62 facilities and found 506 residents who fell into these categories.

State health officials, meanwhile, acknowledged that some medical service agencies were late in filing, or were missing data.

Nursing home deaths, infections, grow at slower rates 

The new report also shows the pandemic continues to press Connecticut’s 213 nursing homes, but deaths and infections are increasing at slower rates.

While total deaths among these residents increased 15% in the latest report, they had grown by 30% during the week that ended May 6, by 63% through April 29 and by 105% through April 22. 

Reports before mid-April had understated coronavirus-related deaths among nursing home residents. Local health officials initially didn’t disclose to their state counterparts the untested seniors who’d displayed COVID-19 symptoms before dying.

Similarly, infections also are growing at a slower pace in nursing homes.

The latest report says 6,947 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, an increase of 985, or 17%, over the past week.

Total infections had increased by 24% during the week ending May 6, by 41% as of April 29 and by 100% as of April 22.

In West Hartford, there are 166 nursing home residents who have tested positive for COVID-19, representing 41.1% of the town’s total 404 cases. Last week there were 145 cases reported among West Hartford nursing home residents.

Fatalities among nursing home residents continue to account for the majority of reported deaths in West Hartford. As of data reported Thursday, 64 nursing home residents from West Hartford have died of COVID-19-related causes, 81% of the town’s 79 deaths.

Columns (from left) indicate the number of beds, number of laboratory-confirmed cases, number of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 deaths, and number of probable deaths in West Hartford nursing homes.

In combination with the four deaths of residents of West Hartford assisted living facilities, the total climbs to 86.1%

Nursing homes that had previously recorded some of the highest numbers of cases and deaths continued to do so in the latest round of data.

Riverside Health & Rehabilitation Center in East Hartford logged the most confirmed and presumed COVID-19-related fatalities, with 54. Kimberly Hall North in Windsor had 43 deaths, while Abbott Terrace Health Center in Waterbury recorded 41 and Shady Knoll Health Center in Seymour had 35.

Five homes reported more than 100 cases: Litchfield Woods in Torrington with 127, Silver Springs Care Center in Meriden with 116, Abbott Terrace with 115, Riverside Health with 111, and Branford Hills Health Care Center in Branford with 100.

Bride Brook Health & Rehabilitation Center in Niantic had 99 COVID-19-positive residents.

Reprinted with permission of The Connecticut Mirror. The author can be reached at [email protected] and [email protected].

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