HARTFORD, CT — (Updated 7 a.m.)Gov. Ned Lamont signed an executive order Wednesday that puts into motion a plan to put COVID-19 positive patients into a handful of nursing homes.

The plan to regroup nursing home patients has been in the works for several days, but Wednesday was the first time the homes that will become the COVID homes were identified.

There are two options to house between 635 and 540 patients. The first option would convert existing nursing homes into COVID positive homes and move any negative patients out.

The homes identified in the governor’s press release for this purpose include Evergreen Health Care in Stafford Springs, Sharon Health Care in Sharon, Touchpoints of Farmington in Farmington, Touchpoints of Bloomfield in Bloomfield, and Greenwich Woods in Greenwich. There are already COVID-19 positive patients at all the homes with the exception of Touchpoints of Farmington.

The other option would be for the state to open vacant buildings like the Old Greenwich Civic Center in Greenwich, Silver Hill Hospitals in New Canaan, Westfield in Meriden, Green Springs in East Hartford, and a vacant nursing home in Region 5. These new spaces are currently vacant and in several cases have been vacated through recent nursing home closures.

Both those options would require providers to submit a written proposal to the Department of Public Health. The providers will need to address staffing patterns, equipment needs and detail system supports that will be provided such as environmental and food services.

Matthew Barrett, president and CEO of the Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities, said this plan “can make a difference in slowing the spread in the 23,000 general nursing home population,” however, the information about the specific homes is wrong.

“Regrettably, the published potential COVID-19 standalone nursing homes sites appear to have been prematurely announced in error,” Barrett said. “Evergreen Health Care Center is not a designated center. The Touchpoints facilities are not designated centers noting concerns expressed by the operators that the COVID-19 pandemic’s rapid penetration into their other Connecticut nursing homes is requiring their full attention.”

Barrett said residents and families members should rest assured these nursing homes are not being considered. The Lamont administration said it would be releasing an updated version of this plan Thursday and it agreed with Barrett that the names of the homes in the release was wrong. 

Regardless of what homes are used as COVID positive homes and which patients may be moved, “any move will be overwhelmingly upsetting and disturbing,” Mairead Painter, Connecticut’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman, said. “However, this is the best way to help keep your loved one safe.”

She said the alternative — keeping the COVID-19 positive patients in these homes — puts the other residents at risk.

Lamont said residents of some long-term care facilities who either test negative for COVID-19 or display no symptoms will be able to voluntarily transfer to facilities where there are no COVID-19 positive residents.

At the same time, some facilities will be converted to only house individuals who are COVID-19 positive and dedicate their new admissions to individuals who have been diagnosed positive. This concept also includes a facility who has a dedicated entrance to a unit within the structure that can physically isolate all care and services from normal operations.

The homes with COVID positive patients will get paid a higher Medicaid rate.

The executive order also asks existing nursing homes to dedicate specific units that will group together residents who have been diagnosed as being COVID-19 positive, where applicable.

Of the 216 nursing homes in Connecticut 36 have had at least one confirmed case of COVID-19. A total of 124 nursing home residents with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 have been identified. At least 52 of those 124 were hospitalized and 13 have died.

Below is the list of nursing homes where at least one patient has tested positive.