Those who live at Caroline’s Residential Care in East Haven are fairly independent, so there were only two staff members at the assisted living facility to prepare meals Wednesday afternoon. But they were in need of help themselves after being found in the middle of an overdose.
In a shocking 911 call to East Haven Police, a visiting nurse describes finding one of those employees passed out.
“She breathes and then she stops and breathes and then she stops. And she’s making all these noises. She’s literally on the stairs and I can’t even move her,” said the nurse to 911 dispatchers. East Haven Police responded.
“What we discovered was a pretty significant amount of narcotics in plain view,” said Captain Joseph Murgo, who says the employees thought they were using cocaine but instead got a dangerous dose of fentanyl.
“In those serious scenarios time is of the essence, so if she didn’t get there as soon as she did it probably could have been a lot worse for a lot more people.”
Members of the East Haven Fire Department gave multiple doses of Narcan to save the two employees. They were taken to Yale New Haven Hospital for treatment.
“It’s pretty alarming when you think about it,” Murgo said.
The concern is multi-layered for police. They’ve had at least five other fentanyl overdoses where people thought they were using cocaine. Murgo adds it’s a trend that’s rising in other jurisdictions as well.
Second, the people who were supposed to be there for residents weren’t there at all.
“This was pretty much the biggest issue we’ve had there in quite some time,” Murgo said.
And now, the building is under scrutiny for outstanding housing violations first discovered during an inspection on August 26.
“We came here last night for that medical emergency so that led us to see that no violations were corrected,” said Fire Chief Matt Marcarelli.
The violations were bad enough that they had plans to go to housing court but opted to give owners the chance to make repairs.
“They were given 30 days to correct, there’s been no progress up to that point,” Marcarelli said.
The list of violations is long, according to the chief. They include smoke detection and fire alarms. One of the major concerns for the fire department is accessible emergency exits. And, there were 21 people living in the building that’s licensed for 16.
“I don’t have the exact list on me right now, but it was rather lengthy. Some of them could have been corrected rather quickly. Others will take more time,” Marcarelli said.
Now, officials will decide if residents here should relocate. Murgo says the whole ordeal is troubling.
“It’s concerning because it’s one of the most vulnerable populations that we have,” Murgo said. “And you expect them to get the care that they need and deserve.”
The owner of Caroline’s Residential Care didn’t return calls for comment.