State to Close Three Rivers Nursing Home in Norwich Amid COVID-19 Outbreak Investigation

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The state Department of Health is closing Three Rivers Health Care in Norwich, acting commissioner Deidre Gifford said on Wednesday.

Gifford signed an emergency order on Wednesday to begin moving all patients at Three Rivers to other facilities.    

This comes soon after the Department of Public Health announced it would appoint a temporary manager to oversee operations at the nursing home amid an investigation into a widespread COVID-19 outbreak at the facility.

That was the first time since 2006 that DPH has appointed a temporary manager to a Connecticut nursing home.

At least 21 residents and six staff members at Three Rivers Health Care have tested positive for COVID-19 and four of the people who were infected have died, according to DPH.

The temporary manager determined that there were several problems within Three Rivers and led her to make the recommendation to close the facility because the deficiencies posed a serious threat to the health and safety of the patients and staff, according to Gifford.

"Given the scope of the facility's serious deficiencies, we have concluded that the facility cannot be brought into compliance with federal and state regulatory requirements by the time period permitted under federal law," Gifford said. "The department's order and that the facility's continued operation presents a meaningful risk of harm to the residents of the facility."

The Connecticut Department of Public Health is investigating the Three Rivers Nursing Home in Norwich after an outbreak of COVID-19 cases in the facility.

In August, DPH said the investigation into the COVID-19 outbreak revealed serious violations in infection control measures and issued an "immediate jeopardy" statement of deficiency finding for the Three Rivers Healthcare.

The investigation revealed that the coronavirus outbreak began on July 24 when a staff member tested positive through routine weekly testing, according to DPH.

It also found serious violations in general infection control practices, staffing, cohorting residents who tested positive, and use of PPE, DPH said.

DPH said they are investigating whether state regulations, laws or executive orders were violated by the facility. DPH personnel have remained on-site to monitor the situation at Three Rivers since the beginning of the investigation.

JACC Health Center of Norwich, which operates Three Rivers Health Care, released a statement on Wednesday:

“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.”

SEIU 1199, the union representing employees who work at Three Rivers issued a statement Wednesday criticizing the Department of Public Health:

"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."

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