Among nursing homes, lowest-rated facilities account for most COVID-19 cases, deaths

By: - April 28, 2020 7:15 am
PruittHealth-Carolina Point, one of the nursing homes with the largest COVID-19 outbreaks (Photo: Lisa Sorg)

Three nursing homes rated as “much below average” by federal regulators have the largest number of COVID-19 cases, according to data released yesterday afternoon by the NC Department of Health and Human Services.

These one-star facilities also are in the top five for reported deaths in North Carolina from the coronavirus.

The Citadel at Salisbury, also known as the Salisbury Center, leads the state with 144 cases; 10 residents have died.

PruittHealth-Carolina Point in Orange County has reported 108 cases and 11 deaths.

At the Durham Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, 95 cases have been confirmed, and seven deaths.

All three nursing homes have also been cited for abuse in the past, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

As of yesterday, there were 1,380 reported positive cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina nursing homes, and 126 deaths. More than two-thirds of the cases and 70% of the deaths in these facilities occurred in those with 1-star or 2-star ratings — much below average or below average.

NC DHHS released the data after more than 20 media outlets, including NC Policy Watch, threaten to sue the agency under the Public Records Act. Previously, DHHS had refused to disclose the names of the facilities citing privacy laws.

Further analysis of the data shows that the nursing homes accounting for 83% of the positive cases also scored low in staffing benchmarks. In fact, inadequate staffing is common among most facilities in North Carolina; 31 of 47, rated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services received either “below average” or “much below average” marks.

Only six nursing homes were “above average” or “much above average” for staffing.

Even several of the highest-rated homes, though, reported positive cases, but the numbers were lower than their lesser-rated counterparts. The lowest percentage of cases that resulted in or contributed to death were in five-star facilities.

However, several factors besides the facilities ratings could influence the outcomes, such as the overall health of the resident. For example, some facilities house more people who are medically fragile.

According to DHHS data, there also have been 22 positive cases in “other congregate living facilities,” and 1 person has died.

In residential care facilities, which include assisted living homes for senior citizens and people with disabilities, 220 positive cases have been reported. Of those, 17 people have died.

These figures often change. Within the last 12 hours Durham County added to its total: 111 at the Durham Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 47 at Treyburn Rehabilitation Center, five at the Durham Recovery Response Center, 4 at Durham VA Healthcare System Community Nursing Home and two at Hillcrest Convalescent Center. These are not included in the tables below. Sources: NC DHHS, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

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Lisa Sorg
Lisa Sorg

Assistant Editor and Environmental Reporter Lisa Sorg helps manage newsroom operations while covering the environment, climate change, agriculture and energy.