- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for AG Healey Reaches Settlement With Rowley Nursing Home Over Pandemic Response Failures
Thomas Dalton, Deputy Press Secretary
BOSTON — Attorney General Maura Healey today announced a settlement agreement with a Rowley nursing home and its owner to resolve allegations that they failed to implement appropriate infection control procedures at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in spring 2020.
The agreement resolves allegations brought in a civil suit by the AG’s Office in May 2022 against Sea View Retreat, Inc. in Rowley and its owner Stephen Comley II. The settlement requires Sea View and Comley to pay the state a total of $175,000, and agree to no longer own, operate, or manage a long-term care or assisted living facility in Massachusetts.
“By failing to implement basic infection control procedures at the start of the pandemic, this nursing home violated state regulations and jeopardized the health and safety of its vulnerable residents and patients,” said AG Healey. “This agreement ensures that Sea View and its owner will never again be responsible for Massachusetts patients in long-term care facilities.”
The AG’s Office launched an investigation into Sea View 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 properly cohort residents, conduct surveillance testing of staff and residents, screen staff at entry of the facility, train staff on use of personal protective equipment (PPE), provide staff with COVID-19 competency training, and ensure consistent staffing teams dedicated to COVID-19-positive residents to prevent further infection. This wholesale failure to implement 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. The AG’s complaint alleged that, because Sea View and Comley failed to implement mandatory COVID-19 infection control procedures at their facility, claims billed by Sea View to MassHealth during this time were improper and constituted false claims.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Sea View and Comley agree to pay $175,000, half of which will be directed to the Commonwealth’s Long-Term Care Facility Quality Improvement Fund. The remaining half of the funds will be returned to MassHealth.
This matter is being handled by Deputy Division Chief Kevin Lownds and Nurse Investigator Barbara Edwards, of the AG’s Medicaid Fraud Division. Assistant Attorney General Christina Chan, now of the AG’s False Claims Division, also investigated the case. 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, as well as Assistant Attorney General Maryanne Reynolds of the AG’s Constitutional and Administrative Law Division, 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 funded by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.