Local officials call for transparency from Life Care as 65 COVID-19 cases mount
The Littleton Board of Selectmen and local elected representatives are calling for transparency at Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley (LCC-NV), where 65 residents have tested positive for COVID-19.
Five nursing home patients have died of the virus, all of whom were hospitalized, Life Care announced on Tuesday.
In a letter sent earlier that day, the Board of Selectmen, state Sen. Jamie Eldridge, state Rep. James Arciero and U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan urged Life Care Centers of America President Beecher Hunter to “immediately alert public health authorities of any confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 contamination within your network, including cases in which flu-like symptoms are exhibited.”
At the time the letter was sent, at least nine residents and eight staff members had tested positive for the virus. The nursing home’s first case was a resident who was transferred to a local hospital on March 27, according to Life Care.
“We also urge you to test all current workers at LCC-NV, and any that worked there in March and April, but have since left your employment. These actions should be taken without delay to protect residents, staff, and their families,” the letter states.
On April 1, town health officials said the center failed to comply with “lawful and appropriate” instructions from the board of health after a patient and staff member tested positive for the virus. On April 3, National Guard members arrived at the center to test all residents.
As a result of the National Guard’s testing, 48 additional residents were confirmed with the virus, bringing the total to 65 positive residents. Fourteen of them are currently hospitalized, according to Life Care.
Crystal Cunneen, a former certified nursing assistant at Life Care, told reporters on April 3 that staff members were not being tested for the virus. She said that when she tried to call out from her shift that weekend out of fear she contracted the virus, her boss hung up on her.
“Of particular concern is the apparent lack of readiness or responsiveness to the COVID-19 threat, across the LCCA network,” the letter to Hunter states.
According to the letter, there have been 37 COVID-19-related deaths at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington. “In that case, like the one at LCC-NV, the facility did not provide adequate notification to authorities,” the letter continues.
There are 15 Life Care centers across Massachusetts, including one in Leominster, according to the company’s website.
“We urge you to immediately ensure that your facilities fully comply with all public health requirements and take extreme care in preventing further contamination. The families we represent have placed a sacred trust in your hands, and we expect that LCCA to honor its obligation to them,” the letter states.