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Cost-Cutting at America’s Nursing Homes Made Covid-19 Even Worse

An investigation into a troubled chain in Tennessee reveals the industry could have done more to stop the virus.

Employees say Nashville’s Trevecca Center left staff and residents vulnerable to Covid.

Employees say Nashville’s Trevecca Center left staff and residents vulnerable to Covid.

Photographer: Tamara Reynolds for Bloomberg Businessweek

In early April the Trevecca Center for Rehabilitation & Healing in Nashville received an urgent call. At the time, Tennessee had only 3,000 coronavirus cases, compared with more than 100,000 in the state of New York. But the caller, the nursing director at a nearby kidney dialysis center, was worried. She said one of the home’s residents had been given a routine test before an appointment and had tested positive for the coronavirus. She said she believed that Trevecca, a 240-bed nursing home, might have an outbreak on its hands. Trevecca’s managers were busy, she was told, so she left a message.

Two days later, the caller tried again, insisting that this was serious and asking to speak with the home’s administrator, Carl Young. But she didn’t get through to Young—nor did people from a second dialysis center with an identical warning, say four current and former Trevecca employees familiar with the calls.