We are extremely disappointed that the Department of Public Health was not able to step in earlier and do better to fix the problems observed at Three Rivers in Norwich. After nearly six months working with COVID-19 in Connecticut’s nursing homes, and after thousands of residents have passed away, Three Rivers is another example of DPH’s failure to hold nursing homes accountable.
If the State had done a better job enforcing and ensuring compliance with infection controls and other safety protocols, including but not limited to bringing in an outside manager to take over operations based on the apparent collapse of the previous management, DPH may have avoided the drastic measures that the State has announced today. DPH must do better, much better, to ensure that infection control protocols are enforced at every nursing home in Connecticut.
The reprehensible management behavior observed at Three Rivers may merit discharging patients immediately from the facility. But closing the facility is not the best outcome for residents and their families, for frontline workers or for the community as a whole. By ordering the immediate evacuation of the facility, the State’s actions will most likely ensure that the facility closes, which will allow the operator to be let off the hook for the irresponsible administrative decisions that accelerated COVID-19 infections.
Residents will now suffer through transfers in the middle of a pandemic. Residents who were cared by these dedicated workers for years will have to find another place they can call “home” and establish new relationships with staff. Today’s announcement also means that dozens of frontline workers who were brave enough to keep showing up daily at Three Rivers to care for residents may face job loss. While action needs to be taken, we believe there were alternative measures available that would have ensured the safety of the residents and provide for a pathway for the nursing home to fall back in compliance under a new administration.
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