A second Cambridge nursing home has a resident infected recently with Covid-19, bringing the total number of nursing home cases reported in the past two weeks to eight residents and one worker. The new cases came after four months when there were no new infections at any of the city’s three nursing homes and four assisted living facilities.
The city announced the cases but has not identified either of the two nursing homes with infections. State reports indicate that the first cases – seven residents and an employee – occurred at Sancta Maria Nursing Facility. The latest infection was at Neville Center at Fresh Pond, which has been unusually transparent about the pandemic and disclosed the case on its website Tuesday.
The Cambridge Public Health Department has linked the cases at both nursing homes to hospitals, saying at least some residents were infected while they were being treated at hospitals and brought the virus to the local facilities when they were discharged. A spokeswoman for Neville Center disagreed. “I do not believe that our resident was infected at the hospital,” said Angela Penny of Landmark Health, the management company for Neville Center.
As for disclosure, Penny said: “We truly believe in transparency and want to keep our families informed, as that is the only way to prevent misinformation and fear. We will continue to daily update our website and communicate with our families, residents, staff and the community.”
Neville Center said it’s begun testing all residents and staff.
Maria also was testing all residents after its new cases. But Sancta Maria has failed to meet testing requirements for staff for the second week in a row, testing 75 percent instead of the required 90 percent, the state health department reported Wednesday. Sancta Maria also reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Oct. 15 that it lacked enough nurses and aides earlier this month; that was the most recent report.
Nursing home residents are extremely vulnerable to the virus because of their age and poor health. Almost three-quarters of the 100 Cambridge residents who have died of Covid-19 were in long-term care facilities.
The city has not named the hospitals where residents might have been infected. Spokeswoman Susan Feinberg directed questions to the state Department of Public Health, which is investigating, the city said. Omar Cabrera, spokesman for the state agency, didn’t respond to questions.
The only nearby hospital where an outbreak has been reported is Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “We checked with our infectious control team and they are not aware of any link between the Brigham cluster and a Cambridge nursing home,” spokeswoman M. Elaine St. Peter said.
Likely spread in isolation
Residents being admitted to a nursing home, whether for the first time or because they’re coming back from a hospital stay, must stay in quarantine or isolation for 14 days and be tested. Nursing homes have also admitted hospital patients who are known to have Covid-19 and need rehabilitation or help recovering.
Cambridge Rehabilitation & Nursing Center and Sancta Maria Nursing Facility have said in reports to the CDC that they’ve taken hospital patients with the virus; the most recent admissions were in July, according to the reports. There is no data for Neville Center.
Although the Cambridge Health Department said the first three new cases at Sancta Maria were patients infected in hospitals, the department changed its opinion after it identified four more cases. Then it said that “it is likely” that infections also spread “in the isolation unit” – though isolation is supposed to prevent transmission.
Ties to city, agencies
Neville Center has ties to city government, the Cambridge Health Alliance and the Cambridge Housing Authority. City Manager Louis A. DePasquale sits on its board, and the other agencies also have board members as representatives. The nursing home and the Neville Place assisted living center were developed on the site of the former city-owned nursing home, Neville Manor, with the help of the city and the housing authority. The new facilities must accept a certain percentage of low-income residents under the terms of the redevelopment.
Representatives of the housing authority and the Alliance have said they and the city don’t oversee daily operation of the two long-term care facilities. The nursing home is managed by Landmark, and the assisted living center by Senior Living Residences.