May, 2020
Hill Country Observer: The Threat To Our Elders, Testing, transparency at issue as virus sweeps through region’s nursing homes
by Tracy Frisch

Alison Weingartner, the advocacy group’s executive director, said Massachusetts was not reporting Covid-19 cases by nursing home until new federal rules required facilities to begin reporting that data.

“We need some transparency,” Weingartner said. “There hasn’t been any until it was forced.”

On April 20, the state announced that long-term care facilities would have to begin reporting Covid-19 cases. By the end of April, state figures revealed long-term care facilities accounted for more than half the documented cases in the state – and nearly 60 percent of the deaths. In addition, two-thirds of the nursing facilities across the state had at least one Covid-19 case…

…Weingartner said the controversy surrounding the state’s handling of Covid-19 patients has helped to focus public attention on the conditions in nursing homes.

“What it has done is shine a light on how the nursing home industry is understaffed, underpaid, overwhelmed and not controlling infections,” Weingartner said. “Prior to the pandemic, in a three-year period, two-thirds of all nursing homes were cited for their infection control practices. People don’t understand how bad it is. Now that the light has been shone on these inadequacies, what we as advocates hope is that they’ll finally be addressed in a comprehensive way.”