COVID 19 Outbreaks in Nursing Homes Linked to Quality Score

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As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic has altered industries across the nation. One field particularly hard hit has been the nursing home and residential care industry. With hundreds of residents living in close proximity, often people that are highly vulnerable to the virus, alongside their caretakers and center staff, nursing homes across the country have experienced major outbreaks. Many of the residents and their families have suffered as a result.

The unfortunate reality is that however difficult it has been for these kinds of facilities to contain the virus, those that made the effort to fulfill their regular duty of care to their residents performed better at controlling the spread of the virus when it hit. A new study from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) showed a correlation between the quality of care in nursing homes and the spread of COVID-19. They found that facilities that had better federal rating scores were less likely to have major outbreaks.

Correlation Between Quality Of Care and Likelihood of an Outbreak

In the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, they announced the findings of their researchers, who discovered a relationship between how good a nursing homes rating by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) was, and the facility’s ability to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during outbreaks. Overall, the higher the nursing was rated, the better they were at protecting their residents.

To collect data for the study, researchers used information from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources to pinpoint all of the area’s coronavirus outbreaks in nursing homes from March through June with outbreaks including any number of cases above one within two weeks. They also used data from CMS’s Nursing Home Compare website, which rates nursing home facilities from one star to five stars based on their health inspections, quality measures, and staff level.

From their data, the CDC found that 14 of the 123 nursing homes they looked at suffered COVID-19 outbreaks. Of these nursing homes, the odds of a coronavirus outbreak happening at a facility with a 2 or 3-star rating was 87% lower than a 1-star facility. Whereas facilities with a 4 or 5-star rating were 94% less likely to have a COVID-19 outbreak. This information could be used to find facilities that are likely to suffer coronavirus outbreaks and be proactive in preventing them.

Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times

Coronavirus Outbreaks in Nursing Homes

During the course of this COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been much attention given to the spread of the outbreak in nursing homes. Many nursing homes have failed to contain the spread of the virus in their facilities due to understaffing, unpreparedness, and the increased vulnerability of their residents. A summer CMS report showed that nursing homes and long term care centers reported over 216,000 COVID-19 cases and had an additional 129,000 suspected cases. The confirmed cases resulted in 53,196 coronavirus related deaths up until August when the data was collected.

As a result of these findings, investigators from federal agencies are looking into the possibility that nursing home neglect is a significant factor in the devastating spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes and similar facilities, rather than as a natural result of the fundamentals of these types of facilities and the residents that live there. They suspect that a failure of nursing to respond correctly, taking the effort, time, and resources to prevent the virus from spreading between residents when infections do occur may be a larger factor. This means that the residents that entrusted their health and safety to these facilities may have been unnecessarily put at risk.