PruittHealth and COVID
North Carolina extended a private management deal with PruittHealth. The management deal includes four state-owned veterans nursing homes. The PruittHealth managed facilities had at least 36 residents die of COVID-19. PruittHealth is a for-profit Georgia-based nursing home chain. They own, operate, and manage dozens of facilities in the Southeast.
In May, state and federal health officials started releasing the numbers of COVID cases and deaths by nursing facility. By June 14, 15 residents of PruittHealth VA facilities died of COVID. That is not good. Why would they extend the contract?
Terry Westbrook is the deputy director of the Veterans Division in the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA). Under the existing contract, there’s no “material alteration” that requires bids or a request for proposals.
“The DMVA anticipates that the Veterans Affairs Commission will vote as to whether to exercise a one-year option pursuant to the existing contract with Pruitt Healthcare,” Westbrook said.
The contract renewal surprised many consumers.
“With all of the veterans, including my father, who were lost to Covid-19 while staying in NC Veterans Homes managed by Pruitt Health Care, I am astonished that the state of North Carolina is prepared to simply grant them another contract,” Jennifer Brigman said in a message to NC Health News. “Veterans’ lives must be a cheap commodity to North Carolina’s politicians since they are granting this contract without requiring any review of Pruitt.”
A Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services database lists COVID as the cause of 36 eventual deaths in North Carolina’s state veterans nursing homes run by PruittHealth. Since the pandemic began, over 2,000 residents have died of COVID in North Carolina’s 427 nursing homes. We can do better.