Baker accused of misplaced COVID-19 priorities

TWO LEADING OFFICIALS in the state’s nursing home industry said on The Codcast that the Baker administration focused too much attention in the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis on hospitals and not enough on long-term care facilities.

“The state has done a tremendous job of focusing on hospital surge and doing all we can through social distancing and tracing methods to really try to protect our communities, but where the virus is most severe is in our long-term care facilities,” said Tara Gregorio, president of the Massachusetts Senior Care Association. “Clearly we do need to redouble our focus relative to the crisis in nursing facilities.”

Rich Bane, the president of BaneCare Management, which operates 11 nursing homes and two assisted living facilities in Massachusetts, echoed that sentiment. “There’s a sports metaphor here,” he said. “The state was guarding the wrong man early on.”

One possible sign of the state’s slow grasp of the nursing home situation was its data gathering. It wasn’t until April 2, when the total number of COVID-19 cases reached 8,966 and the total number of deaths hit 154 that the state started to report on the situation at nursing homes. Initially, the state only released information on the number of positive tests at long-term care facilities and the number of facilities with at least one COVID-19 case.