MEDFORD (CBS) — On Thursday, Massachusetts residents got a first look at the toll the coronavirus pandemic has taken on Massachusetts nursing homes. So far, 4,041 people have died at elderly care facilities across the state. More than 80 nursing homes have had 20 or more deaths.
The Department of Public Health released a database showing how many people have died at each facility, after advocates begged for the numbers.
“Wow, I had no idea the extent. This is information we’ve been looking for two months,” said Alison Weingartner, executive director of Massachusetts Advocates for Nursing Home Reform. “It’s too little too late. We still need more information to understand the extent of the problem because they still haven’t broken down the numbers between residents and staff.”
The numbers do not include those who died at the Holyoke and Chelsea Soldiers’ Homes.
“My grandfather died alone. We don’t even know how long he had passed because he was unchecked,” said Nicole Catatao, whose grandfather died after becoming infected during an outbreak at the Courtyard Nursing Care Center in Medford.
Her grandfather was one of 60 people who died in the home.
“If there is a resurgence of COVID-19 in the fall, hopefully they have better resources and better plans in place,” she said. “I don’t want the shock value of that number of the mortality in nursing homes to kind of drift away, or for the public to look at it as an acceptable loss.”
Massachusetts Representative Ruth Balser has filed legislation to make the numbers public.
“To see the numbers is nothing less than devastating,” she said. “Sadly the Senate didn’t support the bill, and so now we’ve now waited to get info we could have had a month ago.”