The Public Health Department announced Thursday it issued $221,000 in fines against Connecticut long-term care providers that missed a deadline to report compliance with Gov. Ned Lamont’s employee COVID vaccination mandate.
All told, the department fined 26 providers. The agency announced the penalties one month after the Sept. 28 deadline for the facilities to submit compliance reports. Of 59 facilities that submitted late reports, 33 ultimately had complied within a seven-day grace period and were not fined. The department assigned penalties against nine managed residential communities, nine residential care homes, four assisted living facilities, three nursing homes, and a chronic disease hospital.
In a press release, Dr. Manisha Juthani, commissioner of the Public Health Department, urged the remaining facilities to comply with the mandate. As of this week, the agency continued to review 122 facilities which had not yet reported.
Beginning next week, the department may begin fining some of those non-reporting facilities, according to a press release. The penalties increase the longer facilities are out of compliance. The governor’s order allows for fines of up to $20,000 per day in some cases. Already, the Public Health Department estimates that non-reporting facilities may collectively be on the hook for $15 million in penalties.
“The purpose of this vaccine mandate is to protect the health and safety of the patients and residents in long-term care as well as the health and safety of the staff, their families, and their co-workers,” Juthani said. “Reporting timely and accurately to DPH helps the state ensure that the long-term care industry is meeting this goal and brings confidence to the community that our most vulnerable citizens are safe.”
In a statement, Matt Barrett, president of the Connecticut Association of Healthcare Facilities, said that department’s data showed about 95% of Connecticut nursing home staff were vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. He said the relatively small number of nursing homes not in compliance were outliers and not indicative of an otherwise successful vaccine initiative.
“Our association is recommending state regulators take a balanced approach to evaluating non-compliance issues which favors, focusses and weighs more heavily on the actual compliance with the policy goals and less weight on administrative reporting issues,” Barrett said.