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Next administration has tall order: dig into state’s nursing homes

The Massachusetts State House on a foggy May day.Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff

Re “One-party rule could be mixed blessing for Healey: When Democrats hold all the cards, unity often elusive” (Page A1, Nov. 13): The new “triangle of power” on Beacon Hill has an immense job ahead: improving nursing homes. Of the more than 20,600 Massachusetts residents lost to COVID-19, more than 6,200 of them resided in a nursing home. Tens of thousands of family members grieve these losses every day. They wonder what went wrong and who will fix it. Current survivors in these facilities, meanwhile, should be fiercely protected from infection, abuse, neglect, understaffing, and fear of closure.

In the past few years, there has been no audit of the funds provided to nursing facilities. An audit should assure the public that a significant amount of that money actually goes to staffing. Audits ought to be consolidated to cover third-party arrangements, such as rent, catering, and other areas. Are operators of these facilities meeting regulations requiring a minimum of care hours per resident and ensuring safety and comfort? Are they required to limit new admissions, given staff shortages?


While much of this will fall to the newly elected state auditor, Diana DiZoglio, the cleansing of the industry under the next administration will require cooperation among Attorney General Andrea Campbell, Governor Maura Healey, Healey’s head of health and human services — everyone ameliorating the hardships of growing older with disability. The task may be herculean, but clean hands are needed to power wash the Augean stables.

Margaret Morganroth Gullette