The state Department of Public Health has found serious infection control violations at a Norwich nursing home where 21 residents have tested positive for COVID-19 and three have died.
The Three Rivers nursing home failed to ensure proper cohorting of residents, did not use personal protective gear in accordance with standards outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, failed to enforce a 14-day quarantine period for a resident exposed to coronavirus, and did not maintain an “updated, accurate or accessible outbreak listing” for the status of residents, the health department concluded.
The facility also failed to screen a visitor for travel history, did not ensure appropriate storage of reusable gowns (to maintain infection control), and failed to make sure an aerosolized medication was properly administered, putting the resident and staff at risk of COVID-19 exposure.
The health department issued a finding of “immediate jeopardy” against Three Rivers, meaning the facility has 10 days to present a plan of action on how it will address the violations and improve patient care. The plan must be approved by the health department.
The state did not announce any fines against the nursing home, but said additional enforcement actions are expected to be announced soon.
“This is the first enforcement action. There will be others coming,” said Av Harris, a spokesman for the health department.
In the meantime, Harris said state health officials are “on the ground there every day” monitoring operations.
As of Monday, 21 residents of Three Rivers had tested positive for coronavirus, along with five employees. Three residents have died and one was hospitalized.
The violations were found during a series of inspections that wrapped up on Aug. 19. During the visits, inspectors found a housekeeper wearing a mask with a valve, which experts say does not prevent the spread of coronavirus. A registered nurse, who went on an out-of-state vacation with family members — at least two of whom had been exposed to COVID-19 — was tested prior to her shift on July 24, but did not get the results back until July 27. She was positive for coronavirus.
Staff reported that the nurse at times was not wearing a mask and said she was not feeling well during the shift. The nurse later told an inspector that she “knew there was a possibility” she was infected because of her trip. Two of her family members later tested positive for coronavirus. A colleague the nurse interacted with on July 24 also tested positive for COVID-19.
Officials with Three Rivers, owned by JACC Healthcare of Norwich, could not be reached Monday.
“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 … to ensure that nursing homes are providing a safe environment for their residents,” said Deidre Gifford, the state’s acting public health commissioner. “DPH is committed to holding facilities accountable and ensuring that improvements in patient care are made.”
Three Rivers was also inspected in April and May.
Inspectors found no deficiencies during an April 24 review, but noted violations during a May 7 visit to the facility.
During that visit, a staff member did not wear protective eye equipment while caring for three residents. The employee said that while a face shield and googles were available in a storage closet, there were no sanitizing wipes to clean the equipment, and she did not know who used them last.
Liquid sanitizer was also improperly stored inside the facility, DPH reported: bottle caps were flipped open and a 24-ounce bag was stored with the pour spout open.