Connecticut nursing home inspections to include staff vaccinations

Jerome Powell
Roslyn Williams, an EMT vaccinator for Hartford HealthCare, holds a Pfizer sign for a COVID-19 vaccination event at Smokin' With Chris in Southington, Conn., Monday, June 21, 2021.
Roslyn Williams, an EMT vaccinator for Hartford HealthCare, holds a Pfizer sign for a COVID-19 vaccination event at Smokin’ With Chris in Southington, Conn., Monday, June 21, 2021.DAVE ZAJAC/Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut public health officials plan to visit every nursing home to check on the number of employees who’ve been vaccinated for COVID-19. The move comes as federal data show at least 16 facilities in the state have staff vaccination rates below 50%.

Heather Aaron, deputy commissioner of the Department of Public Health, said Thursday that verifying the vaccination rates of staff members will become part of the state’s inspection process.

“We have not checked every nursing home specifically for that. And so that is part of something that we’re doing now,” Aaron told The Associated Press in an interview. “We’re basically saying that when we come in to do inspections, we’re going to take a look at that also.”

Aaron said state public health officials plan to stress to employees that nursing home residents are vulnerable and that many died during the earlier days of the pandemic because the virus was brought into facilities by staff.

“So if you’re going to come in, there’s a heavy responsibility on you to make sure that you’re safe,” Aaron said. “In the next few weeks, that’s what we’re going to be hammering home, that we have to make sure the nursing home is safe. We cannot go back to where we came from.”

State data from July 18 showed the vaccination rates among staff ranged from 28% to 100% while the vaccination rate among residents ranged from 61% to 100%, based on information the facilities report to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Meanwhile, state statistics from July 21 to Aug. 3 indicate there were 48 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among nursing home staff. Among residents, there were 51 cases and three deaths.

Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont said Thursday that his administration is continuing to discuss the possibility of requiring nursing home workers to be vaccinated. State officials are talking with the nursing home representatives, the nursing home union and others to figure out how to ensure more workers get vaccinated.

“We have to be concerned about everything with nursing homes. We can’t make a mistake. So, yes, we’re going to micromanage this and make sure that our elderly are OK. They have no defense but us,” Aaron said.

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