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Littleton officials say assisted-living facility ‘stonewalled’ them after positive COVID-19 tests

As of Wednesday, one facility resident had died and 16 other people, eight residents and eight staff, had tested positive.

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Littleton officials are concerned because, they say, Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley, an assisted-living facility, did not follow the proper protocols after a worker and a resident there tested positive for COVID-19.

As of Wednesday, at least 17 people linked to the facility, including a resident who died, had tested positive for COVID-19, according to The Boston Globe. The company told the newspaper that of the 16 survivors who tested positive eight are residents and eight are staff.

After the employee and resident tested positive, the facility failed to cooperate with health agents who responded, Jim Garreffi, the town’s director of public health, wrote in a letter to the state Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Health Care Safety and Quality, town officials said in a news release. Garreffi said the public health officials were “stonewalled” by the facility when trying to identify close contacts, according to the release; he asked the state for assistance.

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“Our Public Health Nurse reached out to the facility as part of the investigation into the individuals to instruct them on the requirements for isolation and obtain a list of close contacts (contact tracing),” Garreffi said in the letter, dated Tuesday, March 31. “The staff at the facility was not forth coming with the information.”

Town officials were also concerned about the number of times the fire department had responded to the facility — 18 times to transport 16 patients to local hospitals within a five-day period beginning last Friday, the release says. Last year, the department only went there about four times a week on average.

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“Our primary concerns are for the safety and well-being of our residents,” Town Administrator Nina Nazarian said. “The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented public health emergency, and our public health officials have a duty to protect not only the residents and employees at Life Care but also to protect all residents of Littleton and our first responders who are going on emergency medical calls without question or hesitation, putting themselves at risk every day.”

The Nashoba Valley facility is operated by Life Care Centers of America, the same company that operates the facility in Kirkland, Washington, where 35 people have succumbed to the virus. In a statement to the Globe, the company said officials at the facility were working with state public health officials, which the state confirmed, and have been following guidelines from authorities.

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“Our primary concern is for the health and safety of our residents, nursing staff and other care providers. They are on the front line of this unprecedented outbreak,” the company said. “We’ll continue to provide regular updates to state and local officials, as well as to family members who are concerned about the health and safety of their loved ones.”

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