25 Investigates: DPH says residents of Chelmsford nursing home in ‘immediate jeopardy’ after deadly COVID-19 cluster

25 Investigates: DPH says residents of Chelmsford nursing home in ‘immediate jeopardy’ after deadly COVID-19 cluster

CHELMSFORD, Mass. — The Department of Public Health has determined there is ‘immediate jeopardy’ at Sunny Acres Nursing Home in Chelmsford. As a result, DPH has prohibited the facility from admitting any new admissions as of October 29, and they could face fines.

According to DPH, state health inspectors performed an infection control survey at Sunny Acres nursing home in Chelmsford, October 28. And, this was the third infection control survey at this facility in October due to an outbreak of COVID-19 cases. DPH says the previous two infection control surveys found ‘noncompliance’ for infection control issues.

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Based on the three failed surveys, DPH found there was ‘immediate jeopardy’ at the center. DPH says immediate jeopardy occurs “when a nursing home is non-compliant with one or more federal requirements, which has caused, or is likely to cause, serious injury, serious harm, serious impairment or death, and there is a need for the facility to take immediate corrective action.”

25 Investigates first reported about the outbreak at the Chelmsford facility on October 22, 2020.

The Chelmsford Board of Health then confirmed for Boston 25 News Anchor Kerry Kavanaugh, 47 residents recently tested positive. Five residents of the home have died. There are also 17 infected staff members.

“Sunny Acres has been working closely with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to control and mitigate the issue,” said Susan Rosa, Health Director for the town of Chelmsford.

Since then, two more residents have died, in connection to the most recent COVID-19 outbreak, for a total of 7, according to newly released data from the state.

25 Investigates reached out to Sunny Acres about the outbreak and the nursing home sent the following statement.

"Sunny Acres Nursing and Rehabilitation Center has been fortunate over the past 15 weeks to not have a single resident or staff Covid-19 positive case. This center has conducted approximately 1600- PCR surveillance testing on staff and residents during this period, through October 2020.

The center has provided numerous education and in-service programs with all staff members on current infection control practices, proper use of PPE supplies and Covid-19 prevention. Our top priority is the safety and wellbeing of our residents and the dedicated staff who are making enormous personal sacrifices to provide compassionate care during this public health crisis.

Unfortunately, it has proved impossible to keep this rapidly spreading and highly contagious virus out of this center.

During recent routine Covid-19 surveillance testing conducted in late September - it was indicated that several residents had tested positive for Covid-19. This center has been working closely with the State Department of Public Heath, The Chelmsford Board of Health and has been receiving support from infection control specialists to bring this current virus cluster under control in the center. We are following all State and CDC guidelines to try to protect our residents and staff.

Administration staff have reported daily all cases for residents and staff through the proper state and federal communication channels per guidelines. All family members receive routine updates on their family member situation, and Administration staff have provided operational communication to families and staff as the situation unfolds. The good news is that many of our residents have moved past their 14 day isolation period, and on the road to recovery. We are monitoring their progress very closely.

The Sunny Acres Management team wants to thank our courageous staff for their commitment and dedication in providing the highest quality of care to all our residents during a very challenging and difficult period. They are true HEROS. We also want to thank our families for their support."

We reached out again Friday after learning about the DPH designation and were told “we have corrected all issues on the date of the citation, and requested that the Jeopardy citation be removed as of 10/30/20.”

DPH says the facility must correct deficiencies by November 20 to avoid termination of its Medicare and Medicaid provider agreements.

DPH said it deployed a rapid response team on October 19th. to provide staffing and infection control support as well as 2 shipments of PPE from the state’s stockpile in recent weeks.