NORWICH — In a “rare and serious step,” a temporary manager has been appointed to oversee operations at a Norwich nursing home where there was a recent widespread COVID-19 outbreak, state officials said Tuesday.
On Tuesday, the state Department of Public Health announced it appointed a temporary manager at Three Rivers nursing home in Norwich after an investigation by the state “found serious lapses in management and infection control practices.”
Since July 24, DPH officials said, at least 21 residents and six staff members at the Norwich nursing home were infected with the virus. Four of the infected residents have died.
The facility voluntarily accepted the temporary manager. This marked the first time the DPH appointed a temporary manager to run a Connecticut nursing home since 2006.
The temporary manager will have authority over all hiring and personnel decisions, procedures at the nursing home and fiscal and budgetary matters to correct “operational deficiencies” found in the initial DPH report by the state in late August.
“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 a statement from Deidre S. Gifford, acting DPH commissioner.
Gifford said her department is working to ensure Three Rivers “improves its practices in a sustainable way” so there would not be another outbreak.
“Connecticut nursing homes must do everything they can to keep residents and staff safe,” Gifford said.
The state DPH started to investigate the outbreak on Aug. 17, including daily on-site visits, interviews with residents and staff and reviews of facility records. State DPH personnel have been on site to monitor the situation at Three Rivers since the investigation began, officials said Tuesday.
An investigation at the nursing home on Sept. 9 revealed the outbreak started on July 24 when a staff member tested positive through a routine weekly testing, officials said.
“There were serious violations found facility-wide in general infection control practices, staffing, cohorting (grouping together) residents who tested positive, and use of personal protective equipment,” the state DPH said.
The temporary manager will review the infection control, staffing and management practices at Three Rivers and submit an assessment to the state DPH within two weeks. The manager will also help launch a corrective plan of action, which must be presented to the the state DPH to show how the facility will address the findings of the investigation and improve.
More enforcement actions against Three Rivers are expected, officials said Tuesday, but did not explain further.
In a letter to the facility outlining the concerns, officials said a recommendation was made to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Regional Office and the state DPH to issue a financial penalty.