Healey investigating Littleton nursing home

Says families deserve to know what went wrong

ATTORNEY GENERAL MAURA HEALEY said her office is investigating a nursing home in Littleton to determine if its response to a COVID-19 outbreak that caused the deaths of 26 residents warranted legal action.

“We owe it to the families who lost loved ones under these tragic circumstances to determine what went wrong,” Healey said in a statement released on Wednesday.

Healey appears to be interested in the rising death toll at long-term care facilities across the state and whether negligence may have been a factor. Her investigation of the Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley comes on the heels of an earlier announcement that her office was investigating the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, where 76 veterans have died.

Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley is owned by Life Care Centers of America, which owns 12 nursing facilities in Massachusetts. The Littleton facility has come under fire from town and elected officials as well as a nurse at the facility who claimed it was unsafe to work there. The nurse, Nancy Krier, died of COVID-19 on April 10.

A law that recently passed the Legislature and was signed by Gov. Charlie Baker provides immunity for nursing homes and other health care providers for negligence under certain circumstances related to COVID-19. However, officials say the law doesn’t provide immunity in all cases, including instances of gross negligence or criminal conduct.

US Rep. Lori Trahan released a statement saying Life Care Centers knew how lethal COVID-19 was because the company’s facility in Kirkland, Washington, was one of the first nursing homes in the country to be hit with an outbreak.

“Nevertheless, over two months later, more than 20 residents and health care workers at Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley have died and dozens have tested positive,” Trahan’s statement said. “Worse yet, each of their 12 facilities in Massachusetts has reported more than 30 COVID-19 positive cases and half are presently not in adherence with the Department of Public Health’s latest clinical audit.”

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Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

The audit Trahan mentioned graded 360 nursing homes on compliance with a 28-point infection control checklist. Of the 12 Life Care Center facilities in Massachusetts, six failed to pass the audit. Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley, which scored 26 out of 28, was not one of the six.

According to COVID-19 death data released Wednesday, fatalities at Life Care Center facilities in Massachusetts ranged from six at the facility in Leominster to 35 at the facility in Raynham.