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DPH Appoints Temporary Manager to Oversee Operations at Three Rivers Nursing Home in Norwich Following Widespread Covid-19 Outbreak

First Time DPH Has Appointed Temporary Manager to Run a CT Nursing Home Since 2006; Investigation of Covid-19 Outbreak Found Serious Lapses in Management and Infection Control Practices 

The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) today is announcing the appointment of a Temporary Manager to take over operations at the Three Rivers Nursing Home in Norwich, the latest enforcement action following an investigation of a widespread COVID-19 outbreak at the facility.  Three Rivers has agreed to voluntarily accept the temporary manager.   Since July 24, at least 21 residents and six staff at Three Rivers have become infected with COVID-19, and four of the infected residents have died.  This is the first time since 2006 that DPH has appointed a temporary manager for a Connecticut Nursing Home.  The Temporary Manager will be responsible for operations of the facility and, pursuant to federal and state regulations, will have authority over all hiring and personnel decisions, procedures at the nursing home, and fiscal and budgetary matters in order to correct operational deficiencies found in the initial DPH report released August 31, 2020.   

“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.  As part of our enforcement role at the state and federal level, DPH is committed to ensuring proper infection control and management practices are in place as we navigate our way through this challenging pandemic.  Our aim is to make sure Three Rivers improves its practices in a sustainable way so we never see a widespread, preventable outbreak of COVID-19 or any other virus.  Connecticut nursing homes must do everything they can to keep residents and staff safe.”

On August 31, DPH issued a statement of deficiency for the Three Rivers Nursing Home in Norwich following an investigation of the COVID-19 outbreak.  The investigation revealed that the COVID-19 outbreak began on July 24, 2020 when a staff member tested positive through routine weekly testing. 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 (PPE).  The detailed, full investigative report in the statement of deficiency, as well as the violation letter outlining the appointment of a temporary manager are  available online by searching for it by date (between August 25-September 14)

DPH investigated the outbreak starting August 17, 2020 including daily on-site visits, reviews of facility records, and interviews with multiple residents and staff at Three Rivers.  A statement of deficiency is a federal enforcement action made by DPH as the investigatory agent for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal entity that regulates nursing home participation in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.  

Findings of deficiency can be made after violations in management or practice are found in a nursing home that puts patient care at risk.  In this case, DPH issued a finding of immediate jeopardy, meaning the violations are serious enough to risk imminent harm to life.  In addition to these findings of violation of federal standards, DPH is investigating whether state regulations, laws or executive orders were violated by the facility.  DPH personnel have remained on site to monitor the situation at Three Rivers since the beginning of the investigation. 

The Temporary Manager will conduct a thorough review of infection control, staffing and management practices at Three Rivers and will submit an assessment to DPH within two weeks.  The manager must also direct the creation of a corrective plan of action that must be presented to DPH that shows how the facility will address the findings and improve patient care.  DPH is also expecting more enforcement actions against Three Rivers to follow.