NORWICH, CT (WFSB) — A Norwich nursing home has been ordered to close due to an outbreak of coronavirus cases.
State leaders signed an order on Wednesday that will shut down the Three Rivers Nursing Home in Norwich.
All 53 residents will be moved to other licensed nursing homes, but it will have to happen slowly so they can contain the outbreak.
There are 17 residents who are in a COVID-positive unit, and will be transferred to another unit. Another seven are under observation.
In a statement on Wednesday, the JACC Health Center of Norwich, which operates Three Rivers Health Care, said “This is a challenging time for Three Rivers Health Care, our residents and our staff. Since the initial COVID outbreak, we have been cooperating with the State Department of Public Health to bring our facility into full compliance with state and federal regulations, including the engagement of a Temporary Manager to oversee the facility. Following an initial assessment, the Temporary Manager concluded that bringing the facility back into substantial compliance within the timeframe mandated by regulatory bodies was not feasible due to a number of concerns, including the absence of critical staff. Citing the Temporary Manager’s assessment, the Commissioner of Public Health has ordered that all residents be transferred to other facilities that can safely meet their needs. Under these circumstances we support this order. Our priority now is acting safely and swiftly to relocate our residents to other homes, working closely with their families and loved ones.”
This comes after the state’s Department of Public Health released findings last month from an investigation into an outbreak of COVID-19 at the facility.
The Dept. of Public Health had announced the issuance of a statement of deficiency for the Three Rivers Nursing home last month.
It had also asked for a temporary manager to be put in place at the facility, but just a few days later, she determined there was no way to bring the facility into compliance by a Sept. 30 deadline.
“I’ve never served in a facility that I did not believe I could not bring into timely compliance,” said Katharine Sacks, the temporary manager.
Sacks said some of the biggest problems were that Three Rivers was severely understaffed, and that employees did not have proper training.
A number of the violations deal with how the company handled a COVID-19 outbreak that started weeks ago.
“The temporary manager identified widespread problems in the facility, they’re related to delivery of care to inadequate infection control,” said Deidre Gifford, DPH Commissioner.
Since July 24, DPH officials said at least 22 residents and six staff members at the nursing home became infected with COVID-19. A number of the impacted residents have needed to be hospitalized and four have died.
Four of the infected residents died, but Sen. Cathy Osten said there was a fifth who died.
“After weeks of communicating my concerns to the administration about this privately run, for-profit facility, I am glad that Connecticut has made the decision to shut down Three Rivers Healthcare for the protection of the staff and the patients there. I know the state has been investigating various nursing homes across Connecticut for months now, and it is my hope that we will not see a repeat anywhere of the lax infection control procedures, the understaffing and the lack of staff training like we have seen at Three Rivers. I also want to express my condolences to the family members and friends of the five patients who have died at Three Rivers. I believe their deaths are inexcusable and were totally preventable had proper precautions been taken and standard coronavirus procedures been followed,” said State Senator Cathy Osten.
During the investigation, some of the citations DPH officials found included: failure to use protective equipment, failure to appropriately cohort residents to prevent the spread of the illness, and failure to maintain an accurate outbreak listing.
The investigation began on Aug. 17, which included daily visits, reviews of facility records, and interviews with multiple residents and staff at the facility.
See the full report by clicking here.
The SEUI1199 union also released a statement saying “We are extremely disappointed that the Department of Public Health was not able to step in earlier and do better to fix the problems observed at Three Rivers in Norwich. After nearly six months working with COVID-19 in Connecticut’s nursing homes, and after thousands of residents have passed away, Three Rivers is another example of DPH’s failure to hold nursing homes accountable.
If the State had done a better job enforcing and ensuring compliance with infection controls and other safety protocols, including but not limited to bringing in an outside manager to take over operations based on the apparent collapse of the previous management, DPH may have avoided the drastic measures that the State has announced today. DPH must do better, much better, to ensure that infection control protocols are enforced at every nursing home in Connecticut.
The reprehensible management behavior observed at Three Rivers may merit discharging patients immediately from the facility. But closing the facility is not the best outcome for residents and their families, for frontline workers or for the community as a whole. By ordering the immediate evacuation of the facility, the State’s actions will most likely ensure that the facility closes, which will allow the operator to be let off the hook for the irresponsible administrative decisions that accelerated COVID-19 infections. Residents will now suffer through transfers in the middle of a pandemic. Residents who were cared by these dedicated workers for years will have to find another place they can call “home” and establish new relationships with staff. Today’s announcement also means that dozens of frontline workers who were brave enough to keep showing up daily at Three Rivers to care for residents may face job loss. While action needs to be taken, we believe there were alternative measures available that would have ensured the safety of the residents and provide for a pathway for the nursing home to fall back in compliance under a new administration.”