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She was hospitalized with COVID-19. 10 others died. Their nursing home got a $118K bonus for protecting residents

COVID magnified nursing homes troubles, from the lack of workers to infection control. The government hoped money would help, but critics question the accountability

Rebecca Lindstrom

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The pandemic has magnified troubles within our nursing homes. From the lack of qualified workers to infection control, the government has tried to use money to fix the problems. But is money hiding accountability?

11Alive's investigative team, The Reveal, found dozens of Georgia nursing homes that received bonus money for doing well protecting residents from COVID-19, while also fining them for safety violations. Records show a lot of the violations were related directly to infection control. 

“This is very upsetting, can you believe that,” Lori Ciminelli asked.

She waited 14 months to sit outside with her mother, Carol. As if in celebration, the weather offered a perfect spring day. The two sat within feet of each other as Frank Sinatra crooned on her iPhone, Carol softly singing along.

Ciminelli moved her mom into Chestnut Ridge in Cumming just months before COVID-19 shut down face-to-face visitation. Her mom, wheelchair-bound and diagnosed with dementia, needed more direct care than anyone in the family could provide.

Ciminelli says her mom loved the amenities.

“They had bingo, they had games, they had a beauty parlor,” she said with a smile, before shifting her tone to add, “Then it started.” 

Credit: WXIA