Federal Regulators Investigating Death of Nursing Home Employee, Believed to Be 'COVID-Related' | New Hampshire Public Radio

Federal Regulators Investigating Death of Nursing Home Employee, Believed to Be 'COVID-Related'

Jun 23, 2020

Hackett Hill Center, a skilled nursing facility in Manchester, is facing a federal workplace safety investigation into the recent death of an employee. 

According to a publicly available inspection report on the OSHA website, the federal workplace safety agency opened an investigation into Hackett Hill on May 27 related to an “Accident” that is categorized as “Fat/Cat” — related to a fatality or catastrophe. Under federal regulations, employers are required to report “the death of any employee as a result of a work-related incident."

Lori Mayer, a spokeswoman for Hackett Hill's parent company, Genesis Healthcare, confirmed that the federal inquiry stems from Hackett Hill reporting “an employee death, which we believe was COVID-related.”

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of one of our employees during this very difficult time,” Mayer wrote in an email to NHPR. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the employee's family.”

Mayer declined to provide additional details on the employee’s death or any follow up steps the facility is taking, citing privacy concerns.

As of June 18, Hackett Hill identified cases of COVID-19 among 56 residents and 16 staff members, with 16 deaths, according to data published by state health officials. That data does not indicate how many deaths at Hackett Hill or any other long-term care facility were among residents versus employees. Also according to the state’s records, Hackett Hill’s outbreak was deemed “closed” as of June 5.

Jake Leon, a spokesman for New Hampshire’s Department of Health and Human Services, said OSHA “does not notify the Department when it is investigating a workplace in [New Hampshire].”

“The DHHS Bureau of Licensing and Certification investigates issues related to patient care,” Leon said. “If an OSHA investigation discovered issues related to patient care, the Department would be informed.”

Leon said the state health department could not provide details on individual deaths at long-term care facilities in New Hampshire because doing so could allow someone to potentially identify the people involved, which could violate federal patient privacy laws.

It is unclear how many employees at New Hampshire’s long-term care facilities have died from COVID-19 thus far. The state’s public coronavirus dashboard indicates that six healthcare workers and 279 people “associated with long-term care settings” have died from COVID-19 as of June 22. However, the state does not differentiate between residents and staff in its long-term care mortality statistics.