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Governor Lamont and Legislative Leaders Launch Nursing Home and Assisted Living Oversight Working Group

Statement

Governor Ned Lamont today announced that his administration is collaborating with the leadership of the Connecticut General Assembly to form a bipartisan working group that will evaluate and address challenges for nursing homes and assisted living facilities that have been revealed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Nursing Home and Assisted Living Oversight Working Group will be co-chaired by State Representative Toni Walker (D-New Haven), the House chair of the Appropriations Committee, and one soon-to-be named co-chair from the executive branch.

Building on the comprehensive report issued last month by the independent firm Mathematica that was commissioned by Governor Lamont and looked at the overall impact of COVID-19 on long-term care facilities in Connecticut and the state's response to the pandemic, the working group's mission will be to make recommendations on proposed legislation for the 2021 legislative session addressing lessons learned from COVID-19. These include:

Structural challenges in the operation and infrastructure of nursing homes and assisted living facilities; and
Changes needed to meet the demands of any future pandemic.

"We've taken many steps to address the outbreak of COVID-19 within our long-term care facilities, but we must continue being proactive and take the appropriate steps to make improvements and ensure that the quality and safety of some of the most vulnerable residents in our state remains a top priority," Governor Lamont said. "Working collaboratively, we can develop the appropriate legislative solutions that will help address many of these challenges."

"The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed some great challenges faced by nursing homes and assisted living facilities and the staff who work hard to care for our most vulnerable residents in Connecticut," Connecticut Department of Public Health Acting Commissioner Dr. Deidre S. Gifford said. "Many of these challenges predated the pandemic, but it is crucial we learn the right lessons and apply that knowledge so we can better position nursing homes and assisted living facilities for the future. I look forward to working together with a common goal of assessing what systemic changes are needed and the best way to achieve them. Nursing home and assisted living residents, staff and families are counting on us."

"I am proud of the partnership between the executive and legislative branches," State Representative Cathy Abercrombie, who serves as House chair of the Human Services Committee and helped establish this working group, said. "Good policy comes from all of us working together. I am excited about the working group that will be looking at the issues surrounding nursing homes during the COVID pandemic. I look forward to these recommendations which will be brought to the Human Services and Public Health Committees during the next legislative session."

"I am very happy to be selected to serve on the long term care working group," State Representative William Petit (R-Plainville), ranking member of the Public Health Committee, said. "It is critical that we review our policies and procedures to lead to improved care for our most vulnerable constituents. We can and will do better protecting both residents and staff as we learn more and implement better infection control policies."

The working group will hold most of its meetings on Thursdays at 10:00 a.m., and they will be available to the public to watch via the Connecticut Network (CT-N).

Its membership includes a diverse array of representatives from both the executive and legislative branches of government, as well as long-term care providers, organized labor, and consumer advocates, including the long-term care ombudsman who represents residents of long-term care facilities and their families.

The working group will also form the following subcommittees:

Infectious Disease Protocols and COVID Recovery Facilities
Staffing Levels
Socialization, Visitation, and Care-Giver Engagement
Infrastructure/Capital Improvement Funding
The following individuals have been appointed to serve as members:

Legislative Branch

Co-chair: State Representative Toni Walker
State Senator Mary Daughtery Abrams
State Representative Jonathan Steinberg
State Senator Heather Somers
State Representative William Petit
State Senator Derek Slap
State Representative Michelle Cook
State Senator George Logan
State Representative Jay Case
State Senator Cathy Osten
State Senator Paul Formica
State Representative Kathleen McCarty
State Senator Julie Kushner
State Representative Robyn Porter
State Senator Craig Miner
State Representative Joe Polletta

Executive Branch

Mairead Painter, Connecticut Long-Term Care Ombudsman
Melissa McCaw, Secretary, Office of Policy and Management
Deidre S. Gifford, MD MPH, Acting Commissioner, Department of Public Health and Commissioner, Department of Social Services
Lita Orefice, MPM, JD, CHC, Senior Advisor to the Commissioner, Department of Public Health
Barbara Cass, Branch Chief, Health Care Quality and Safety, Department of Public Health
Kate McEvoy, Esq., Director, Division of Health Service, Department of Social Services
Mike Gilbert, Finance Director, Department of Social Services
Amy Porter, Commissioner of the Department of Aging and Disability Services
Judith Dowd, Health and Human Services Section Director, Budget Division, Office of Policy and Management

Private Sector

Patrick Coll, M.D., Medical Director, Seabury Life Community and Pilgrim Manor
Mag Morelli, President, LeadingAge Connecticut
Matt Barrett, President and CEO, Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities
Chris Carter, President, Connecticut Assisted Living Association
Katie Traber, Political Director, 1199
Sandra Arburr, Recreation Director, Athena Healthcare
Jean Aranha, Attorney, Connecticut Legal Services
Elizabeth Stern, Stonington consumer who had family member in long-term care facility

The working group held its first meeting on Thursday morning, and the full video is available to watch on CT-N's website.


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