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DPH closes Three Rivers nursing home in Norwich due to COVID-19 concerns

As of September 16, there have been 21 residents and six staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. Four residents have died.

NORWICH, Conn. — The Department of Public Health held a press conference Wednesday afternoon on the future of the problem-plagued Three Rivers Nursing Home. 

JACC Health Center of Norwich, which operates Three Rivers Health Care confirmed the closure in a statement, deciding this was the only way to get the facility back into," Full compliance with state and federal regulations."

Officials wrote:

“This is a challenging time for Three Rivers Health Care, our residents and our staff. Since the initial COVID outbreak, we have been cooperating with the State Department of Public Health to bring our facility into full compliance with state and federal regulations, including the engagement of a Temporary Manager to oversee the facility. Following an initial assessment, the Temporary Manager concluded that bringing the facility back into substantial compliance within the timeframe mandated by regulatory bodies was not feasible due to a number of concerns, including the absence of critical staff.

Citing the Temporary Manager’s assessment, the Commissioner of Public Health has ordered that all residents be transferred to other facilities that can safely meet their needs. Under these circumstances, we support this order.

Our priority now is acting safely and swiftly to relocate our residents to other homes, working closely with their families and loved ones.”

As of September 16, there have been 21 residents and six staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. Four residents have died due to the virus. However, Senator Catherine Osten (District 19-D) said she believed there were five residents who died due to COVID-19. 

Some of the residents will be moved to COVID-19 isolation rooms due to still having COVID-19. Officials said the residents will be relocated within a 15-mile radius. 

It is unclear the timeline of when the facility is reopening. 

Watch the full press conference here

The Connecticut Association of Healthcare Facilities and the Connecticut Center for Assisted Living (CAHCF/CCAL) and LeadingAge Connecticut released a statement Wednesday night following the decision to close Three Rivers: 

“Connecticut’s two nursing home associations support the Commissioner of Public Health’s authority and today’s action to protect the health and safety of nursing home residents. Based on the publicly reported information, we have confidence that the Commissioner is implementing her duties in the best interest of the Three Rivers Healthcare residents.

Nursing home residents must be our collective priority and we are pledging the resources of our associations to facilitate and assist in the safe and compassionate transfer or residents to nursing homes in the area under these extraordinary circumstances.

We want to emphasize that this is an outlier situation and that the claims made in this case are not reflective of how Connecticut nursing homes overall have addressed the COVID-19 pandemic. We have been working rigorously with our member nursing homes to assist them in achieving full compliance with the state’s COVID-19 testing and infection control guidance. And we will continue to do so because, while current Connecticut nursing home Covid-19 rates are among the lowest in the nation, the pandemic is not over and we must remain vigilant.”

Read the whole statement below: 

Just Monday, the state announced it had hired a new administrator to run the day-to-day and make all medical decisions at the nursing home. 

“Appointing a Temporary manager is a rare and serious step that is unfortunately warranted under the current circumstances in order to keep the residents and staff at Three Rivers nursing home safe,” said Acting DPH Commissioner Deidre S. Gifford, MD MPH. “This is part of ongoing accountability for Three Rivers, and we appreciate their cooperation."

Three Rivers Nursing Home was under investigation regarding a COVID-19 outbreak in August. 

The investigation revealed the outbreak began on August 24 when a staff member tested positive for COVID-19 through weekly testing. The DPH said there were severe violations found throughout the facility like general infection control practices, staffing, and the use of personal protective gear.

Key Findings of the investigation include:

• The facility failed to ensure appropriate cohorting of residents to prevent the transmission of COVID-19

• The facility failed to utilize Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in accordance with Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) standards

• The facility failed to ensure the appropriate designation of staff

• The facility failed to maintain an updated, accurate, or accessible outbreak listing of the COVID-19 status of the residents.

• The facility failed to ensure that a required 14-day quarantine was maintained for a resident exposed to COVID-19.

• The facility also failed to ensure that an aerosolized medication was administered to that resident in a manner consistent with current infection control standards, putting that resident and staff at risk of exposure to COVID-19.

• The facility also failed to ensure that visitor screening regarding a person's recent travel history was conducted in accordance with an Executive Order dated 6/25/20 that was issued by the Governor of the State of Connecticut.

• Additionally, the facility failed to ensure the appropriate storage of reusable isolation gowns to maintain infection control standards.

• The failure of the facility to implement the necessary measures to prevent the transmission of infection was determined to constitute a finding of Immediate Jeopardy (Endangering of Human Life).

The detailed, full investigative report in the statement of deficiency is available online by searching for it by date (between August 25-30).