BOSTON — Attorney General Maura Healey announced today that her office has filed a civil suit against a Rowley nursing home and its owner for infection control failures at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in spring 2020.
The lawsuit, filed May 27 in Suffolk Superior Court against Sea View Retreat, Inc. in Rowley and its owner Stephen Comley II, alleges that the defendants failed to comply with state and federal laws, rules, and regulations that required facilities to implement procedures to protect residents of long-term care facilities from COVID-19 from February to June 2020. These included failures to cohort or isolate multiple residents who were suspected, symptomatic, or known to have tested positive for COVID-19 and failures to promptly test at least one symptomatic resident for COVID-19 and implement facility-wide infection control and prevention procedures.
“Residents of long-term care facilities across Massachusetts and their families deserve to feel confident that they will be cared for and protected,” said AG Healey. “We’re taking action against Sea View because of their failure to implement basic, potentially life-saving COVID-19 mitigation measures to protect their vulnerable residents at the start of the pandemic.”
The AG’s Office launched an investigation into Sea View, a Rowley nursing home, in June 2020 based on complaints received by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
According to the AG’s complaint, the investigation revealed that Sea View and Comley failed to implement basic COVID-19 infection control and prevention procedures, including failures to train staff on use of personal protective equipment (“PPE”), provide staff with COVID-19 competency training, conduct surveillance testing of staff and residents, screen staff at entry of the facility, ensure consistent staffing teams dedicated to COVID-19-positive residents to prevent further infection, and properly cohort residents. These lapses in infection control and prevention allegedly resulted in some residents contracting, and in at least one circumstance, dying from, COVID-19.
Skilled nursing facilities participating in Medicare and MassHealth are required to follow various state and federal statutes, regulations and rules governing their procedures and conduct. Because Sea View and Comley failed to implement mandatory COVID-19 infection control procedures at their facility, the AG’s office alleges that claims billed by Sea View to MassHealth during this time were improper and constituted false claims.
Sea View is no longer in operation, according to a 2022 inspection visit by the Department of Public Health, which found no residents present and no other signs of nursing home operations.
This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Gregoire Ucuz and Investigators Derek Bottari and Barbara Edwards, all of the AG’s Medicaid Fraud Division. The matter was referred by the Department of Public Health, which provided substantial assistance in the investigation. The Office of the Long Term Care Ombudsman and MassHealth also provided substantial assistance in the investigation.
The AG’s Medicaid Fraud Division receives 75 percent of its funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under a grant award. The remaining 25 percent is …….