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36 Veterans Died Of COVID-19 At State-Run Nursing Homes. Who’s To Blame?

An empty rocking chair on a porch.
Public Domain
The PruittHealth-run veterans homes in Salisbury and Fayetteville have reported 132 cases of COVID-19 among staff and residents.

Nursing homes have weathered more than 100 outbreaks of COVID-19 in North Carolina. More than 40% of the state’s deaths from the virus are from residents at those facilities. Some of those facilities are state-run nursing homes for veterans, and there is now scrutiny over government accountability amidst ongoing outbreaks.

As of Friday, July 31, 36 residents have died of COVID-19 in North Carolina’s veterans nursing homes. Meanwhile, facilities in the neighboring states of Virginia, Tennessee and South Carolina have maintained zero COVID-related fatalities. There are more than 130 such state-run nursing homes in the nation, and the four in North Carolina house 342 veterans.

The outbreaks are raising questions about why a facility in Salisbury allowed outside visits while under an Alert Code Red.

Thomas Goldsmith, a reporter for North Carolina Health News, probed the cost and effectiveness of the state contracting out management of the public nursing homes with PruittHealth, a Georgia-based conglomerate.  Host Frank Stasio talks with Goldsmith about how lawmakers are responding as PruittHealth awaits a renewal of its contract in December.

Grant Holub-Moorman coordinates events and North Carolina outreach for WUNC, including a monthly trivia night. He is a founding member of Embodied and a former producer for The State of Things.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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