Ninety-five of Connecticut’s 203 nursing homes are overdue for recertification inspections that are required in facilities every 16 months, according to state data. At the same time, immediate jeopardy orders — findings that indicate violations in a nursing home caused or were likely to cause harm or death to residents — have escalated. The state Department of Public Health issued 17 such orders in 2018, nine in 2019, 15 in 2020 and 16 in 2021. By 2022, the number jumped to 24, and the state reported 12 in the first six months of this year.
Since April 2019, 20 people have died in connection with those violations, state data show. More than a third of those have occurred since October.
An analysis of 93 immediate jeopardy findings issued by the state’s public health department since January 2018 reveals that cases appear to have become more egregious. In 2018, for example, none of the immediate jeopardy cases involved deaths, and six facilities were cited for failing to properly clean glucometers.
During the last seven months, several disturbing cases have surfaced.
A man at a Bloomfield nursing home, deemed at risk of harming himself, died after ingesting bleach from a bottle left within his reach by a nurse aide, records show.
A Waterford facility was evacuated after floors were torn up as part of a renovation project and officials failed to test for asbestos (it was later detected in the building), according to state documents. Sixty-nine residents across two units were temporarily moved out of the home.
And at least four people overdosed at a Manchester nursing home during a two-month period. One resident died.
The health department acknowledged the inspection backlog and attributed the delays to lack of staff, a suspension on inspections during the first year of the pandemic and the length of time it takes to hire and train new surveyors. About 20% to 25% of the positions at the Facility License and Inspection Division, responsible for conducting inspections, are vacant, said Barbara Cass, the health commissioner’s senior advisor for long-term care. A year ago, the rate hovered around 40%.
Although 95 nursing homes are overdue for survey inspections, she said, health officials have visited roughly 80% of those facilities at least once to respond to complaints or perform other types of surveys, such as an infection control inspections.
Still, Cass said, the health department has not visited 11 nursing homes for routine inspections or complaint investigations during the last 18 months.