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COVID-19NC: Coronavirus Rampage In NC Veterans Homes

Greg Barnes
The NC State Veterans Nursing Home in Fayetteville is managed for a percentage of revenues by PruittHealth, a Georgia-based corporation.

Every Friday, we check in with NC Health News founding editor Rose Hoban to discuss the latest coronavirus news making headlines.  This week, the conversation focused on  an investigation by NC Health news reporter Thomas Goldsmith about the quality of care  at state owned veteran’ nursing homes managed by a private company, and where 36 North Carolina residents of military service have died of COVID-19.

RH:  The report is actually three pieces. It was so long that I asked our reporter Tommy Goldsmith if we could break it up by topics.   There's four of these veteran's homes around the state. And there's one company that's based in Georgia which has had the contract to run these. We've had 36 veterans at three of the four homes who have died. One big outbreak was in Fayetteville and a second big outbreak was in Salisbury.   So the series examines the role of privatized health care. And there has long been concern, and  this is not new  - about the profit motive within healthcare. Does that undermine the quality of care? Does it undermine you know how much you're spending on staffing?    

HC: And your report triggered a response by the governor.

RH:  It did.  That came in literally at the last minute we were formatting and getting ready to post the story to go live this morning, when we got an email from the governor's office saying that they would like to take a look at this. And on Wednesday, there was an oversight committee hearing in Congress, looking at veterans nursing homes. 

 HC: What will your staff be looking into going forward?

RH: We're going to continue to watch what happens with  Congress. Tommy has just gotten a small grant to examine  to examine what has actually worked. So we're not just looking at, you know, the things that went wrong in nursing homes. Tommy is starting to look across the country and across the state at things that went well.  You remember we did that story about the strike teams. So that was what gave us the idea like, hey, let's look for things that actually worked, that are replicable, that maybe aren't super expensive. And  that nursing homes and assisted living centers can use as best practices.  

About Rose Hoban:

Rose Hoban is the founder and editor of NC Health News,as well as being the state government reporter. Hoban has been a registered nurse since 1992 but transitioned to journalism after earning degrees in public health policy and journalism. She's reported on science, health, policy, and research in NC since 2005. Contact: editor at northcarolinahealthnews.org

Helen Chickering is a host and reporter on Blue Ridge Public Radio. She joined the station in November 2014.
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