Brandon Woods Covid outbreak wanes, leaving 22 dead

May 28, 2020

Brandon Woods still has 10-30 cases of Covid-19 in the aftermath of an outbreak that left 22 residents dead, according to data released yesterday by the state.

During the height of the outbreak in late April, the Bliss Corner nursing home saw nearly 70 coronavirus cases housed in a separate quarantine unit, with 16 staff testing positive and seven residents dying in a matter of days.

The outbreak started with just two confirmed cases on April 10, a number that jumped to 18 within the week.

Widespread testing of residents and staff was conducted with help from a mobile testing unit provided by the Broad Institute, MIT, and the National Guard, and positive cases were immediately isolated, according to parent company CEO Frank Romano.

MIT also provided much-needed personal protective equipment, including face shields, to the facility during the outbreak in mid-April. Romano said at the time that he had experienced difficulty trying to source PPE.

“I spend the bulk of my day dealing with PPE,” he said in April. “It has been a challenge.” 

Romano later called the virus “devastating.” 

Brandon Woods has now tested all of its residents and 92 percent of its staff, according to the state report.

At the height of the outbreak, a Brandon Woods nurse speaking anonymously said that many staff members were working without gowns or face shields until April 20, with just one N95 mask per staff member every week.

“We have to wear the same one for a week, but that is protocol in most places now,” explained the nurse in April, before adding that the facility is “very chaotic.”

“Everyone is in fear, but we all have to do our best to not show it in front of the residents,” the nurse said.

The case numbers come from new nursing home data released by the Massachusetts Covid-19 Command Center on May 27. The state will continue to release nursing home numbers on a weekly basis.

Although the nursing home scored well on a clinical audit of the facility, hitting 27 out of 28 checks, it was determined to be “not in adherence” to guidelines due to missing one of six core competencies.

The core competencies include critically important safeguards such as proper use of PPE, closing congregate spaces and canceling events, isolating those who test positive, and putting respiratory infection diagnosis and control policies in place.

It is unclear which of the core competencies the facility failed to meet.