State public health officials say violations at a Norwich nursing home are presenting “imminent harm” to the lives of staff and patients. So far, 21 residents and five staff members of Three Rivers Nursing Home have been infected with COVID-19. Three residents have died and one is hospitalized.
The state Department of Public Health says Three Rivers violated a number of infection control standards, including failing to properly use personal protective equipment and failing to properly isolate people who tested positive for COVID-19.
The agency issued a formal “statement of deficiencies” on Aug. 28.
By federal law, Three Rivers has 10 days to present a corrective plan of action to DPH to show how it will address the findings and improve patient care.
At Monday’s coronavirus media briefing, Josh Geballe, Gov. Ned Lamont’s chief operating officer, said DPH officials have gone to Three Rivers every day since they became aware of the outbreak.
Geballe confirmed a staff member was tested for coronavirus but allowed to return to work at the facility before learning of the positive results.
“We are continuing to refine ... that testing protocol too,” he said. Even if a nursing home remains COVID-19-free for 14 days, “we are still going to continue some surveillance testing of the staff -- about 25 percent on average per week -- just to continue to keep our finger on the pulse of those communities and stamp them out if they see any more,” he said.
Geballe said DPH has been helping to quarantine infected residents and making sure there is a supply of proper PPE.
Governor’s Powers Extended
Lawmakers agreed Monday to extend Gov. Lamont’s emergency powers until Feb. 9. They had been set to expire in September.
His public health and civil preparedness powers were put in place in March, allowing Lamont to execute orders, including closing down restaurants and limiting visitors to nursing homes during the pandemic.
“It’s worth remembering of the executive orders we did, almost all of them or the vast majority were deregulation, making it easier for schools and hospitals to do what they needed to do quicker and easier,” the governor noted in his briefing. “A smaller number were restrictive, like closings and such.”
Lamont said legislative leaders agreed February was an appropriate time since they will have been back in session for a few weeks at that point and can make decisions about how the state will continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.