NOTE: This story has been altered from its original version to reflect the correction below.

More than a dozen long-term care facilities in Massachusetts have fallen short on the state's COVID-19 testing requirements for staff members.

The latest survey of state-licensed nursing homes and long term care facilities, conducted by the state's Executive Office of Health and Human Services, found at least 16 were "out of compliance" with COVID-19 testing criteria. The rules require testing at least 90% of each facility's staff.

Among those found to be out of compliance are Halcyon House in Methuen; Penacook Place in Haverhill; Den-Mar Health & Rehabilitation Center in Rockport; and New England Homes for the Deaf in Danvers.

At least 41 long-term facilities did not report their weekly testing results, according to the state agency.

Overall a majority of the 428 nursing homes subject to the regulations have met the state's baseline testing requirements.

Nursing homes have been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak. More than two-thirds of the 5,772 COVID-19 deaths in Massachusetts as of Thursday occurred in nursing homes and other long-term elderly care facilities, according to the state Department of Public Health.

The state began releasing detailed data on the facilities in May, including the numbers of deaths and COVID-19 infections, after reports of outbreaks at several nursing homes.

Most nursing homes in Massachusetts are privately owned but are regulated by the state and receive public funding. Operators of the facilities have long complained of being underfunded by the state and federal governments.

Managers of several homes found not in compliance did not comment on the latest report. But Tara Gregorio, president of the Massachusetts Senior Care Association, points out that only a small number of facilities were non-compliant, and that doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t testing staff regularly.

Delays in testing results, lab failures, changing the vendor that conducts testing and other factors could result in a facility being deemed in non-compliance, she said.

Gregorio said nursing facilities "continue to support and conduct routine testing of both residents and staff, more so than any other health care provider group in the state."

The state also conducts weekly surveys of COVID-19 infection protocols at long-term care facilities that receive federal Medicare and Medicaid funds.

The surveys weigh a range of factors, such as isolating infected residents, closing congregate spaces, providing protective gear for staff, having soap in bathrooms and posting signage about the virus.

The most recent survey, released Wednesday, revealed that several facilities had high numbers of deficiencies. The state only described the results in general terms and did not reveal the numbers of deficiencies at each.

Earlier this month, the state sent Medicaid termination notices to at least three long-term care facilities because of repeated deficiencies in employee testing and infection controls.

Most nursing homes have improved since a state audit, published in May, showed at least 132 facilities failed to meet COVID-19 control protocols.

To see the state's latest reports on long term care facilities, visit www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-response-reporting

Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for North of Boston Media Group’s newspapers and websites. Email him at cwade@cnhi.com

CORRECTION: Due to inaccurate information provided by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, this story misidentified Care One at Essex Park in Beverly and Academy Manor in Andover as among long-term care facilities that were not in compliance with the state’s COVID-19 testing criteria. Both facilities were in compliance.

This Week's Circulars

Recommended for you