No coronavirus cases at nursing home where staff paid to live on-site, owner says

The owner of a Connecticut nursing home had an innovative idea to protect the facility's residents during the COVID-19 pandemic: Give staff financial incentives to live in RVs on-site. It's paying off, as the facility has not reported a single coronavirus case, according to WBUR, Boston's NPR news station.

Tyson Belanger, owner of the Bristol, Conn.-based Shady Oaks Assisted Living, implemented the idea in March. He offered staff large bonuses to move into rented RVs in the parking lot of the facility, so that the staff could quarantine with the residents.

Initially, the nursing home tried other recommendations to limit the spread of the new coronavirus in the facility, including banning outside visitors and conducting coronavirus screenings for staff when they came into work. But as information grew about asymptomatic carriers spreading the virus, Mr. Belanger decided to try a new approach.

The nursing home has about 17 staff members who work 60 to 80 hours a week. Mr. Belanger uses his personal savings to pay the on-site staff higher salaries — $15,000 a month for certified nurse assistants and $20,000 a month for licensed nurses. He also said that preventing coronavirus outbreaks at nursing homes should be seen as "a public good," and should receive funding support from the government.

Though it is difficult for staff to work long hours and be away from family, Mr. Belanger said that the staff feel good about the decision.

"We feel like we've really made a difference," he told WBUR, adding that four out of five nursing homes in the area have reported COVID-19 cases.

More articles on post-acute care:
Maryland mandates universal COVID-19 testing at nursing homes
Wisconsin to test all nursing home residents, staff
Serious infection control issues found at 10 Life Care facilities, CMS says 

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