The Connecticut Department of Public Health said Monday the investigation into a COVID-19 outbreak at a Norwich nursing home has found serious violations in infection control measures.
The department is issuing an "immediate jeopardy" statement of deficiency finding for the Three Rivers Healthcare, where 21 residents and five staff members have contracted COVID-19.
DPH officials said three of the residents have died. A fourth is hospitalized. The remaining infected residents are recovering at the facility, segregated from other residents.
The DPH investigation began on August 17 and involves on-site visits, interviews with residents and staff and a review of facility records.
A statement of deficiency is a federal enforcement action, made by DPH on behalf of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal entity that regulates nursing homes participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. This "immediate jeopardy" finding means federal infection control measures have been violated and the violations are serious enough to "risk imminent harm to life."
According to DPH, the outbreak began on July 24 when a staff member tested positive for COVID-19 during routine weekly testing. From there, violations in infection control measures led to the spread of the virus.
DPH said the violations found include failure to ensure cohorting to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, failure to properly utilize PPE, failure to ensure a 14-day quarantine for residents exposed to COVID-19, failure to ensure property visitor screenings, and more.
“DPH is deeply saddened by the further loss of life in nursing homes related to COVID-19. We will continue our robust monitoring and enforcement activities in partnership with CMS to ensure that nursing homes are providing a safe environment for their residents” said Acting DPH Commissioner Deidre S. Gifford in a statement. “Our investigation uncovered system-wide failures in this nursing home in infection control practices, that merited the finding of immediate jeopardy. DPH is committed to holding facilities accountable and ensuring that improvements in patient care are made so residents’ lives are not put in danger.”
The facility will have 10 days to present a plan of action to address the findings and improve care.
DPH is also investigating whether state regulations or laws have been violated.
Scott Ziskin, president and CEO of JACC Health Center of Norwich, which operates Three Rivers Health Care released a statement on Thursday:
“The health and safety of our residents and the staff members who care for them is our greatest priority at Three Rivers Healthcare—after the COVID-19 pandemic began in March, our infection control policies and procedures kept our residents and staff COVID-free for over four months. Since the occurrence of positive COVID-19 cases reported in our home, we have been working with the state Department Public Health (DPH) and its epidemiologists as we monitor the health of our residents and staff. This week, we submitted a comprehensive plan for corrective action to DPH, and we continue to work with DPH on a daily basis to implement the plan as the situation evolves. We offer our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of the three residents who succumbed to the virus, and remain ever-vigilant in keeping everyone in the Three Rivers family safe.”