Baker administration implements new nursing home reforms, staff required to get flu shot

Baker administration implements new nursing home reforms, staff required to get flu shot
Five residents at the Maples Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Wrentham died from COVID-19 related complications and dozens more were infected in recent weeks, the facility said Thursday.

BOSTON — The Baker administration announced Tuesday the implementation of a second round of reforms at the state’s long-term care facilities. Among them is a requirement that all nursing home staff get a flu vaccine by the end of the year.

There have been 9,323 coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts as of Tuesday. Of those 6,150 are connected to longer long-term care facilities, according the Massachusetts Department of Public Health dashboard.

25 Investigates has done extensive reporting about the deadly outbreaks of COVID-19 at nursing homes.

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Even when some nursing homes were already struggling with outbreaks, the state response plan to protect hospital capacity called for discharging COVID-19-positive patients to nursing homes that had created isolation spaces for patients where they could recover.

All nursing homes had to do was sign an attestation form stating they had taken all proper precautions before receiving those patients.

As the death toll connected to long-term care facilities in Massachusetts grew, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services announced protocols to increase accountability and support.

The second round of reforms now in effect requires nursing homes to reduce or eliminate rooms with more than two residents to improve infection control. There will be increased scrutiny over homes that create isolation spaces for COVID-19-positive patients discharged from hospitals.

The state is also providing up to $140 million in additional funding for the facilities and restructuring Medicaid rates, something elder-care advocates have argued is long overdue.

As for the flu shot requirement, under the order, only staff with medical or religious exemptions can opt out.

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