Of the four DeSoto County long-term care facilities that have experienced COVID-19 outbreaks, the two with the highest levels of spread among residents and staff were both cited for health inspection violations early this year.
The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services assign long-term care facilities (LTCs) with ratings on a five-star scale. Their overall rating is based on their ratings from health inspections, staffing levels and quality of care. Both DeSoto Healthcare Center and Diversicare of Southaven have one-star ratings overall and for their 2020 health inspections and have experienced more severe outbreaks during the pandemic than other LTCs in DeSoto County.
DeSoto County LTCs have fared better than other LTCs in large counties in Mississippi in terms of COVID-19 transmission, though there has been variance between centers within the county.
DeSoto Healthcare Center was cited for three health code violations in February, one pertaining to their obligation to “provide and implement an infection prevention and control program.” The violation stemmed from an incident where a nurse did not clean her hands before administering a resident’s medication.
The Center was also found to have failed to provide “safe and appropriate respiratory care” for two of the three residents observed in that part of the inspection. The cannulas for the resident’s oxygen tanks were supposed to be stored in Ziploc bags and dated when not in use to “prevent the possibility for infection or cross contamination,” but were not.
Diversicare of Southaven received six citations, including one for a respiratory care violation because of their failure to change a resident's nebulizer mask and tubing for over three weeks. They were also cited during the same inspection for failing to provide a “clean, homelike environment” for nine residents.
Diversicare of Southaven and DeSoto Healthcare Center both received one-star ratings from CMS overall and for their 2020 health inspections.
Landmark of Southaven received three citations during its health inspection this year, but ultimately received a four-star, or “above average,” rating for the inspection and its overall rating. The average number of health citations in Mississippi is 4.2 and 8.3 nationally.
DeSoto Healthcare Center, Diversicare of Southaven and Landmark of DeSoto did not respond to interview requests for this story.
With 80 total COVID-19 cases across four long-term care facilities (LTCs), DeSoto County has significantly fewer cases in LTCs than other large counties with high rates of virus spread. Hinds County, which has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the state, has 467 cases spread across 10 facilities. Harrison County has 273 cases across six facilities.
Statewide, LTCs account for only 5.79% of COVID-19 cases, but 39.96% of COVID-19 deaths. The death rate in LTCs has steadily declined since spring because the facilities are better prepared to handle positive cases, according to State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs. Still, Dobbs said that there is a variation in how compliant LTCs are with public health guidelines.
“Will I say that there’s some variability in quality of the infection control practices? Yes, absolutely,” Dobbs said. “And we’ve seen in some places that are super diligent, take it super seriously, appropriate use of PPE, they’ll do better.”