Home > Uncategorized > DDS releases provider-based data showing widespread scope of COVID-19 infections in group homes

DDS releases provider-based data showing widespread scope of COVID-19 infections in group homes

Residents and staff have tested positive for COVID-19 in group homes in Massachusetts run by more than 80 percent of corporate providers to the Department of Developmental Services (DDS), according to data from the Department.

The data also shows that residents tested positive in all of the state-operated networks of group homes, while staff tested positive in at least three of those regional networks.

The data, which was provided last week after we had filed a Public Records request in mid-May, is the first indication of how widely the virus has spread throughout the largely provider-based DDS system.

The data also show that deaths of residents have occurred in residences operated by at least 44 corporate providers in addition to as many as three of the state-operated networks and the two developmental centers.

An undetermined number of staff have died of the virus in residences operated by three corporate-providers, although that total number is less than 15. DDS, citing privacy concerns, did not provide actual numbers in instances in which there have been less than 5 cases or deaths, but listed those as “<5” cases or deaths.

In totaling the cases and deaths, we have counted instances in the chart labeled “<5” as 1 case or 1 death, which obviously makes the totals very conservative.

For instance, while the chart shows a total of 69 deaths due to COVID-19 as of June 17, DDS has reported to us separately that the number of deaths is actually over 100. We would note that even that number may be lower than the real number of deaths due to COVID-19 because DDS has so far tested only about 75 percent of the residents in its system, and some providers have refused testing in their residences.

The chart is based on cumulative provider-based information reported to DDS as of June 17. We have ranked the providers from highest to lowest in the reported number of positive COVID-19 cases among residents of the facilities.

You can also download this DDS COVID-19 provider breakdown spreadsheet.

DDS testing data broken down by provider as of 6.17.20

The data shows positive cases occurring among residents in group homes operated by at least 103 of 125 DDS corporate providers, or 82 percent of them.  It also shows positive cases among staff in residences operated by at least 111 providers, or 88 percent.

A total of 22 providers reported zero positive cases among residents. However, it could be that at last some of those providers have not allowed any testing in their residences. DDS has provided separate data to us stating that since April, 1,100 out of a total of 2,100 provider-run group homes reported positive cases in those residences.

As the chart above also shows, there have been 5 deaths reported at the Hogan Regional Center, and at least one death reported at the Wrentham Regional Center as of June 17. There have also been at least one death each in networks of group homes operated by 44 out of 125 corporate providers, and by 3 or more of the state-operated networks.

Caution in interpreting the data

We would offer some words of caution in interpreting this data. One is that it is based on reporting by the providers themselves to DDS, and it is also based on what has so far been a limited amount of testing done of residents and staff. As noted, if a provider has zero positive cases on the list (as the blank cells indicate), that could mean that they are among the providers that have refused testing, claiming that no one in their group homes has shown symptoms.

Similarly, if a provider or group home network is ranked high on the list, that may not necessarily mean conditions are more dangerous in those residences. Northeast Residential Services (NRS), a state-operated group home network, is at the top of the list in the number of residents testing positive, with 82 residents and 73 state-employee staff testing positive. However, NRS is also one of the largest networks of group homes in the state.

We also know that residents have been repeatedly retested in NRS homes. It is unclear whether residents are subjected to retesting in corporate provider-based homes. We have never gotten an answer from DDS to our question whether retesting is done in more than a small number of provider residences.

Among providers, Vinfen, also one of the largest corporate DDS providers, is second highest in the number of positive cases among residents, with 78 residents and 64 staff testing positive. Bridgewell, another large provider, had 100 staff testing positive — the highest number of positive staff on the list.

As the chart shows, as of June 17, there were at least 1,520 positive total cases of the virus among residents, as reported by the providers and by the state-operated group homes, and two state-run developmental centers.

There have been at least 1,355 corporate provider staff testing positive, and at least 401 state-employee staff testing positive. (This is the first breakdown we have had of the number of corporate provider versus state-employee staff testing positive.)

NRS has had the highest number of deaths, with 10 in its group home network. Vinfen is second highest, with 8 deaths in its residences.

It’s not possible to tell from the data provided which group homes the positive cases or deaths have occurred in, or when these cases occurred.

It was notable, but not surprising, that the DDS response to our May Public Records Request stated that the Department does not have records on the number of residents showing symptoms or the number of staff refusing to be tested. We had asked for those records as well. It’s further evidence that the DDS data collection system has big gaps in it.

We would point out that this provider breakdown of COVID-19 testing data is information that a number of families in the DDS residential system have apparently asked for, but which the Baker administration has so far refused to publish online.

Information has long been available on the state’s website about COVID-19 cases and deaths in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities overseen by Department of Public Health (DPH), and even in correctional facilities. But no such detailed information is posted about DDS providers.

It took DDS more than five weeks to respond to our Public Records request for the breakdown of the testing information by provider, necessitating an appeal by us to the state Public Records Supervisor.

We will continue to ask DDS for updated information on COVID testing, broken down by provider. It still appears that we will have to either ask the Department on a periodic basis for this information or file further Public Records requests in order to obtain the latest data.

If DDS does not provide the information in a timely manner, we are reserving our rights to renew our appeal for those records.

  1. itanzman
    June 30, 2020 at 2:16 pm

    Thanks for posting this.

    Like

  2. Catherine Boyle
    June 30, 2020 at 2:32 pm

    Do you have numbers on what the census is for each provider, so that we can calculate percentages of residents who have tested positive or died?

    Like

    • June 30, 2020 at 6:09 pm

      We will try to compile census numbers for at last the majority of the providers listed.

      Like

  3. Richard Faucher
    June 30, 2020 at 2:41 pm

    Thanks for sharing this info

    Dick

                                   

    ‘We can’t all be heroes, because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.’                           Will Rogers

            

    Like

  4. Anonymous
    June 30, 2020 at 3:29 pm

    Where I live we had a staff who who positive

    Like

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