Independent Research Confirms That A Long Term Care Facility’s Location Is A Key Factor In The Likelihood Of A COVID-19 Outbreak
COVID-19 has taken a disproportionate toll on long term care residents despite every effort by their caregivers. David C. Grabowski, professor of health-care policy at Harvard Medical School, R. Tamara Konetzka, professor of health services at the University of Chicago and Vincent Mor, professor of health services policy and practice at Brown University have conducted independent research that shows that the location of a nursing home, asymptomatic spread and availability of testing are determining factors in COVID-19 outbreaks – not quality ratings, infection citations or staffing.
In an op-ed in The Washington Post, Drs. Grabowski, Mor and Konetzka write:
“[A]ccording to our research, location and facility size matter much more than prior quality in predicting whether a nursing home will have a serious covid-19 outbreak. The most important factors influencing whether and how large an outbreak occurs in a nursing home are the population density of the county in which the facility is located, the prevalence of the virus reported in the county and the racial distribution of the nursing home, which are all correlated.
“Location matters because the coronavirus that causes covid-19 often spreads without causing symptoms. Visitors have not been allowed in most facilities since March, but staff members still go to work. If a covid-19 outbreak is underway in the community where staff members live, the pandemic will soon be in the nursing home where they work.
“Many nursing homes can improve their infection-control procedures. But the expectation that good nursing homes can stop transmission while poorly rated nursing homes cannot is unwarranted. Many top-rated nursing homes have been overwhelmed, while a lot of poorly rated ones are free of covid-19 largely because their staff members live in areas with low rates of infection.”