Essex County – After discussions with local Essex County elected officials and families who have lost loved ones, Congresswoman Stefanik immediately contacted the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to request their urgent federal assistance. At Stefanik’s request, CMS immediately had one of their Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) teams contact the Essex Center to discuss the situation and talk through steps being taken to protect nursing home residents and staff. Federal personnel from CMS visited the Essex Center last week to assess the steps being taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and provide direct technical assistance, at Congresswoman Stefanik’s request.

Following Congresswoman Stefanik's quick action and effective advocacy, HHS is immediately sending rapid response tests and testing equipment to the Essex Center.

Following the QIO’s visit last week, the Essex Center is taking the following recommended actions:

  • Expanding onsite physician presence and securing additional staff. 
  • The Medical Director is now onsite at least once a week, the Nurse Practitioner onsite presence has increased to several times a week, and the telehealth visits continue for both general and psychiatric coverage.  
  • Working with the local health department to identify solutions to the housing cohorting recommendations for external staff brought in to assist. 
  • Accepting no new admissions at this time.

CMS QIO is continuing to provide technical assistance to the Essex Center.

“Amid the recent COVID-19 outbreak at the Essex Center, I acted immediately to coordinate with local public health officials and CMS personnel to get them on site as soon as possible,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “At my request, CMS worked quickly to get members from their QIO team on the ground to provide technical assistance to the Essex Center and provide recommendations that the Center is taking seriously. Additionally, the news that HHS is sending rapid response testing equipment to the Center is an extremely critical development. Ensuring safety in our North Country nursing homes continues to be one of my top priorities as we work to defeat COVID-19.  I am very grateful to our hardworking local public health officials and CMS personnel for responding to my request to help mitigate this critical situation.  My prayers are with the affected Essex Center residents, their families, and the staff as they work on the frontlines.”

“When Essex Center nursing home suffered a COVID outbreak, Congresswoman Stefanik immediately went into action reaching out to families impacted and local elected officials,” said Shaun Gillilland, Chair of the Essex County Board of Supervisors. “She immediately secured federal resources to ensure that nursing home residents and staff have rapid testing capability. Her response was timely and effective and as always, she delivered important results for our community.”