By Bob Katzen

A bill before the Public Health Committee would allow the Department of Public Health (DPH) to take control of a nursing home during a public health emergency, inspect a nursing home at any time and require nursing home employees to undergo COVID-19 and other disease testing as well as temperature monitoring as a condition of reporting for work.

“It has been heartbreaking and outrageous to have so many nursing home residents and healthcare workers contract COVID-19, including dozens of deaths at nursing home hotspots across the state,” said Senate sponsor Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton). “The coronavirus pandemic has made it very clear that there is not enough state oversight of nursing homes, often … owned by out-of-state for-profit corporations. The DPH needs to have more tools in its toolbox to intervene in troubled nursing homes, including inspections, and require that all healthcare workers be tested for illnesses, including the coronavirus. We owe that to nursing home residents, nurses and all of their loved ones.”

“Given the recent circumstances at the Littleton Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley, and at other nursing homes and assisted living facilities across our state, this legislation is timely and critically important to protect our most vulnerable individuals, our seniors and those dedicated professionals who care for them,” said Rep. Jim Arciero (D-Westford) House sponsor of the proposal. “This action would prevent further cases or infection and stop more deaths from happening.”

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