A Twin Cities nursing home with a troubled regulatory past has become the site of one of Minnesota’s largest coronavirus outbreaks. It continues a deadly trend among senior facilities with poor health and safety records.
At North Ridge Health and Rehabilitation, a large senior community in New Hope with a 320-bed nursing home, more than 40 residents have died and almost 70 fell ill to the COVID-19 respiratory illness in recent weeks. Only one other senior facility in the state has seen more fatalities from the virus.
North Ridge shares a troubling characteristic with many of the nursing homes across Minnesota beset by coronavirus outbreaks: Historically, it has struggled to adhere to basic standards of patient care. The facility has been fined $117,000 by federal regulators and cited for dozens of health and safety violations over the last three years.
It is a pattern seen around the state. So far, 75 percent of the approximately 70 nursing homes in the state with at least one case of COVID-19 have been cited for not following infection control rules over the last two inspection cycles, starting in 2016, according to a Star Tribune analysis of federal health inspection data.
“We have seen this across the country, where facilities that failed to take basic health and safety controls seriously are having the most problems” amid the coronavirus pandemic, said Toby Edelman, senior policy attorney with the Center for Medicare Advocacy in Washington, D.C. “It’s one reason the virus spreads so rapidly.”
The Minnesota Department of Health has changed its practices to respond to the pandemic. The agency’s health regulation staff has been prioritizing infection control during surveys and conducting onsite visits of facilities with past performance problems. The department has also been sending teams of infection control experts into nursing homes and assisted-living facilities to help contain deadly outbreaks.
Still, long-term care facilities like North Ridge remain ground zero for the pandemic in Minnesota. Together they account for the majority of deaths statewide from the virus. “This pandemic is shining an even brighter light on the systemic issues” in long-term care, said Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm.
(Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune)