INDIANAPOLIS – Hoosiers still don’t know the full toll of COVID-19 in long-term facilities that care for some of the state’s most vulnerable residents.

Data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid on nursing homes still have errors, despite two separate updates since the agency first released statistics June 4.

The data show Alpha Home–A Waters Community in Indianapolis has 106 residents with suspected COVID-19 cases, despite having only 43 occupied beds in the 84-bed facility.

“Those are incorrect numbers,” an Alpha Home representative emphasized in response to an email from CNHI News Indiana asking to clarify the facility’s data. The representative didn’t immediately respond Monday to questions about the facility’s accurate numbers.

Belltower Health & Rehabilitation Center in Granger has a reported 522 deaths, according to CMS, despite having zero reported COVID-19 infections at the 100-bed facility. On its website, the facility reports two staff infections and no resident infections or deaths.

“I am happy to report that the facility remains COVID free,” Marti Carmean, Belltower’s administrator, said in a letter to residents and families.

Forty-two nursing homes in Indiana didn’t submit reports for the week ending June 7. That’s about 8% of the 533 homes in the state listed by CMS.

Of the homes submitting data, 397 reported having no COVID-19 deaths and 68 others reported having 10 or fewer.

Officials have maintained that the Indiana State Department of Health doesn’t keep information about COVID-19 in nursing homes “in a collective form” and couldn’t release its own state dashboard of the toll in individual facilities.

Instead, the state updates aggregate data weekly, lumping nursing homes with other long-term care facilities, including the state’s 202 assisted living facilities and 155 resident facilities within a nursing home.

The federal government oversees regulation of only nursing homes, not assisted living facilities or residential facilities. If CMS’ data can be believed, in Indiana, 94 nursing homes have reported COVID deaths and 130 homes have confirmed COVID-19 cases.

That leaves 138 non-nursing home facilities with COVID cases and 79 non-nursing home facilities with COVID-19 deaths, according to the state. Without a state dashboard tracking cases and deaths at specific sites, the impact of COVID-19 in these facilities remains unclear.

This story was produced with the support of the Investigative Editing Corps (www.investigativeediting.org).

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