Spring Village at Stratford

Gov. Ned Lamont issued an executive order late Thursday ordering assisted living facilities and other managed care communities to report daily on coronavirus issues, including confirmed cases and supplies, or face financial penalties.

The order, which also applies to nursing homes, requires all of these entities to provide daily status reports on a long-term care plan crafted by the state.

This would require reporting not only on infection rates, but also on available beds or units, and levels of staffing and personal protection equipment.

The governor’s executive order also established a $5,000 fine for each instance of noncompliance by any of these facilities or nursing homes.

The administration acknowledged earlier this week that assisted living centers represent a gap in the state’s efforts to track the pandemic’s spread among seniors.

Assisted living residences serve residents age 55 and older who need some health, nursing care, or other assistance with daily living activities, but not necessarily the skilled care provided by a nursing home.

Technically the state doesn’t even license assisted living facilities, but rather only the Assisted Living Service Agencies [ALSA] that provide medical services for residents.

State regulations already require an ALSA to regularly assess residents’ health conditions and refer them to appropriate medical providers when necessary. A registered nurse must be on call 24 hours a day.

There are more than 110 ALSAs currently licensed by the health department.  Licensed agencies only can work at managed communities that provide core services like daily meals, housekeeping and laundry, transportation, maintenance, social programs, and 24-hour security. But the state doesn’t actually regulate how these non-medical programs are delivered.

Two organizations representing assisted living facilities and a coalition representing the medical service agencies issued a joint statement Wednesday pledging to work with the Lamont administration if an order was issued.

“Every day assisted living providers are doing their part to aggressively prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and they welcome the state’s partnership and assistance in this effort,” wrote 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.

The issue of coronavirus spread among assisted living facilities came to the forefront this past weekend when state and local officials coordinated a team response to a coronavirus outbreak at an assisted living facility in Stratford, which put out an urgent call for help when a number of residents fell ill with the virus.

A regional medical reserve corps and Yale-New Haven Hospital sent a doctor and nurses to bolster medical staff at Spring Village at Stratford following appeals Saturday from Stratford Mayor Laura Hoydick and from the Department of Public Health.

State health officials said the outbreak led to more than 30 residents being tested and some medical staff quarantined with coronavirus symptoms.

Keith has spent most of his 31 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut’s transportation and social services networks. He has been the state finances reporter at CT Mirror since it launched in 2010. Prior to joining CT Mirror Keith was State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, a reporter for the Day of New London, and a former contributing writer to The New York Times. Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut.

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