Home > Uncategorized > Large increase in COVID among residents in DDS provider-run group homes, but not in state-operated homes

Large increase in COVID among residents in DDS provider-run group homes, but not in state-operated homes

The latest state report on COVID testing in facilities funded by the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) shows what appears to be a major increase in residents testing positive for the virus in corporate provider-run group homes.

However, there appears to have been little or no increase in COVID among residents of the smaller network of DDS state-run group homes.

According to the state data, the number of residents testing positive in DDS provider-run group homes jumped from 34 to 146 in the period from November 30 to December 28.

In the DDS state-operated group home system, the number of residents testing positive rose only from 9 to 10 in that time frame. We think this difference may reflect the fact that staff in state-run facilities are required to be vaccinated, whereas there is no similar vaccination requirement for staff in provider-run residences.

Staff testing positive in state-run group homes did rise from 20 to 66, according to the latest report. But there is no information available on the number of staff that have tested positive in provider-run group homes. For some reason, that number is not reported.

At the DDS-run Wrentham Developmental Center, the number of residents testing positive rose from zero to five or less. (Numbers under 5 are not specified.)

Staff testing positive at the Wrentham Center rose from three to 24. But that hike in positive staff does not appear to have been mirrored by a large increase in residents testing positive there. Also, as one family member of a Wrentham Center resident said, most of the staff testing positive there are either asymptomatic or have mild symptoms, apparently due to the required vaccinations.

At the Hogan Regional Center, zero residents have tested positive since January of last year. Five staff tested positive at Hogan as of December 28. Prior to that date, no staff had tested positive there since last April.

Despite the increases in residents testing positive in DDS provider homes, deaths among residents have not risen in either the provider-run or state-run networks. In the month prior to December 28, less than five residents died in the state-run and provider-run group homes. (Numbers of deaths are not reported separately for each network.)

There were zero deaths of residents at Hogan or Wrentham in the month prior to December 28. Data on deaths among staff in DDS facilities, whether state-run or provider-run, are not reported. Also, testing results are only now reported monthly, which makes analyses of trends difficult.

Vaccinations of all staff urged

Rick Glassman, director of advocacy for the Disability Law Center, was quoted by WBUR last week as saying that regardless of staffing shortages facing some DDS group homes, vaccines should be mandated for all group home workers, and there should be more frequent testing of both residents and workers.

“It is to the state’s credit that they require vaccines in nursing homes,” Glassman said, according to WBUR. “But people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are equally, and sometimes more, vulnerable.”

Inconsistencies in vaccination policies

We have similarly called for a requirement that staff in provider-run residences be vaccinated. The difference in vaccination requirements for state and provider staff has resulted in major inconsistencies in the state’s response to the virus.

For instance, Nicole Coughlin, a DDS service coordinator, was suspended without pay on December 27, according to a Mass Live report, and threatened with termination because she had not received a second Moderna shot by the October 17 vaccination deadline set by Governor Baker for state employeees. Coughlin’s first vaccine shot last February prompted a severe allergic reaction that accelerated her heart rate and made it difficult to breathe.

According to the report by Mass Live, the Baker administration denied Coughlin a medical exemption even though three medical specialists, including her doctor, recommended that she not receive a second Moderna shot. One specialist said a second shot could be fatal to her.

It makes no sense that some DDS employees are facing a vaccination requirement that apparently allows for virtually no exceptions, while a much larger group of employees in the same field face no requirement at all.

It has been fortunate that the uptick in residents testing positive in the DDS system has so far not resulted in more deaths among those residents. But there is much to be concerned about regarding the increase in COVID cases, and little information on which to evaluate those concerns.

Even though the death rate hasn’t gone up, has the rise in residents testing positive in the provider-run group homes resulted in a higher hospitalization rate or in potentially long-term health complications among those residents? Since no data are reported on hospitalizations or health impacts, we don’t know the answer to those questions.

  1. Anonymous
    January 11, 2022 at 1:13 pm

    EVERYONE in my son’s group home tested positive.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anonymous
    January 11, 2022 at 3:43 pm

    it is all throughout the state run group homes as well. both staff and residents sick. staffing issues due to this. not sure where you are getting your information from?

    Liked by 2 people

    • January 11, 2022 at 3:54 pm

      We’re publishing your comment, but I would ask you the same question. Where did you get your information? Our information came from the latest state’s COVID testing report. See the link in the first sentence of the post. Admittedly, the report is now 13 days old.

      Liked by 1 person

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