coronavirus pandemic

Mass. Residents Worried About Family Members Living in Nursing Homes, Possible Surge

Massachusetts nursing homes have the the highest death rate in the nation

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Sheila Christensen and her sister are on alert as COVID-19 cases continue to climb in Massachusetts, worried there could be another surge in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

Their 97-year-old mom, Jean, who is in a nursing home in Needham, already beat COVID-19 in March, but it took away her ability to walk.

“We thought that was it, but she pulled through and got through it so that was like a miracle that’s all,” said Christensen.

Christensen’s sister, Georgia Jenkins said, “If things go poorly for Massachusetts the next thing is that they’re going to start being stricter with our visits and the one that’s going to keep these elders alive is to see their family.”

Massachusetts nursing homes have the the highest death rate in the nation.

“One out of seven residents or Massachusetts nursing homes have died from Covid 19," said Representative Ruth Balser, who is the House Chair on Joint Committee on Elder Affairs.

After last Tuesday’s hearing with State Health and Human Services Secretary Mary Lou Sudders she says she’s cautiously optimistic that we are ready for another wave.

“There was initially this incredible shortage of personal protective equipment and there was a staffing shortage and a shortage of testing and all of that has gotten stepped up," Rep. Balser said.

Since the start of the pandemic, the state has opened dedicated COVID isolation spaces at nursing facilities, added testing programs and retained response teams in the event of staffing shortages.

But there’s still more to work, according to Balser.

“Patients are being sent from hospitals that haven’t been tested, bringing Covid 19 into the nursing homes so that continues to be my big concern,” she said.

Jean’s daughters hope their half-hour visits with their mom continue, and they hope as the states COVID numbers go up, their mom stays safe.

The state also committed more than 400 million dollars to nursing homes for infection control and staffing.

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