Despite strengthened care protocols and improved infection-control practices in Connecticut and throughout the country, nursing homes have been unable to stem the rise in COVID-19 cases. The two Connecticut nursing homes with reported cases of COVID-19 – Evergreen Health Center in Stafford Springs and Sharon Health Care Center – are operated by Farmington-based Athena Health Care Systems, which also owns facilities in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Two residents at Evergreen Health Center have died from the infection; and the number of residents with the COVID-19 rose to eight this week. At Sharon Health Care Center, one resident contracted the virus and is quarantined along with the resident’s roommate, as of mid-week. About once a year, nursing facilities are inspected and rated on staffing levels and the quality of care provided to residents, including how well they prevent infections.
Social distancing is one way to curb the spread of the coronavirus, but for health care workers who provide care in people’s homes, especially for the elderly, that type of care brings heightened risks, experts say. Home health workers assist clients with daily tasks like bathing, dressing, toileting, walking and transferring out of bed; all things that require them to be extremely close to those they serve. In many cases, they also shop for groceries and pick up prescriptions and other necessities. It’s a challenging time, but home health workers are committed to delivering quality care, said Pedro Zayas, spokesman for the SEIU Healthcare 1199 NE, which represents more than 5,000 independent personal care attendants. “Our providers are people who went into this field because they like caring for others,” he said, adding that caregivers are diligent about self-monitoring for fever and other symptoms.
Cases of the highly contagious coronavirus continue to spike in Connecticut and nationally, with elderly people being particularly susceptible.
As coronavirus cases increase, posing heightened risks to the elderly, nursing homes will face growing scrutiny from state health inspectors. In Connecticut and nationally, complying with federal infection-control requirements is a challenge for some nursing homes. Between 2017 and 2019, 145 of Connecticut’s 217 nursing homes – or about 67 percent – were cited for infection-control violations, according to a Conn. Health I-Team analysis of data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). (View list of nursing homes cited below).
Four nursing homes have been fined by the state Department of Public Health (DPH) for various violations that jeopardized residents’ safety or caused injuries. Western Rehabilitation Care Center in Danbury was fined $10,000 following several incidents. On Nov. 15, 2019, a licensed practical nurse (LPN) mistakenly discharged a resident with another resident’s medications. The error was realized on Nov.
Six nursing homes have been fined by the state Department of Public Health (DPH) for violations that endangered or injured residents. Apple Rehab West Haven was fined $6,960 after a resident reported being sexually assaulted by a visitor. On Oct. 2, 2018, a licensed practical nurse (LPN) saw the resident and a male visitor naked in the resident’s room, and the resident told the LPN they’d just had sex, according to DPH. The LPN asked the resident several times if she was alright and the resident replied that the male was her boyfriend.
Fourteen Connecticut hospitals are being penalized by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), losing 1% of their Medicare reimbursements this fiscal year for having high rates of hospital-acquired infections and injuries, new data show. The hospitals are among 786 nationwide being penalized under the Hospital-Acquired Conditions Reduction Program, which was created under the Affordable Care Act, according to a Kaiser Health News (KHN) analysis. The program is in its sixth year and the latest Medicare reimbursement penalties are for the current fiscal year, which began in October 2019 and runs through September. When assessing penalties, CMS considers the number of infections, blood clots, sepsis cases, pressure ulcers, and other complications that may have been prevented. The 14 hospitals losing 1% of their Medicare reimbursements are: Waterbury Hospital, Stamford Hospital, Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in New London, Johnson Memorial Hospital in Stafford Springs, Charlotte Hungerford Hospital in Torrington, Midstate Medical Center in Meriden, Middlesex Hospital, and Windham Community Memorial Hospital & Hatch Hospital in Willimantic.
Nearly 40% of preschool-aged children nationwide have never had a vision screening, new data suggests, and there are disparities in who has been tested. During 2016 and 2017, only 63.5% of children 3 to 5 years old had their eyes tested by a doctor or other health professional, and whites were more likely to have been tested than blacks and Hispanics, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Childhood vision screenings can lead to early detection of vision disorders. The United States Preventative Service Task Force, an independent panel of experts, and the American Optometric Association recommend children in that age group have their eyes checked at least once, even if they’re asymptomatic and at low risk for problems.
“The purpose of a screening is to pick up any red flags, warning signs or risk factors for vision problems,” said Dr. Caroline DeBenedictis, a pediatric ophthalmologist at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford and an assistant professor at UConn School of Medicine. “Vision screening should be happening from the time [children] are born.”
Early detection plays a major role in improving outcomes, she added.
Six nursing homes have been fined by the state for violating a resident’s privacy, verbally abusing a resident and for violations that resulted in residents’ injuries. Whitney Center in Hamden was fined $6,120 after a nurse aide used her personal cellphone to take a picture of a resident being transferred to a shower chair with a Hoyer lift on June 18, 2019, according to a citation issued by the state Department of Public Health (DPH). The resident and nurse aide disagreed on what happened, according to DPH. The aide said the resident wanted the photo taken, but the resident said that was not the case. The aide deleted the photo from the cellphone.
For Oliver Racco, it’s a part of his daily routine: eating a few peanut M&Ms.
It may seem like a treat to some kids, but for Oliver – and a relatively small but growing number of children – it’s an important way he and his family manage his peanut allergy. Racco, 7, who lives in West Hartford, eats the M&Ms as a daily “maintenance dose,” having recently completed an allergy desensitization process at the New England Food Allergy Treatment Center in West Hartford. The process is intended to protect people with severe allergies in the case of accidental ingestion. “Since we’ve gone through the treatment, it has taken away a lot of that worry,” said Racco’s mother, Jessica. She takes some comfort in knowing her son will be all right if he accidentally eats or is exposed to peanuts, she said.
The number of “adverse events” occurring at Connecticut hospitals rose 7% in 2018, compared with the previous year, with a growing number of patients suffering serious injury or death associated with falls, according to a new state report. Overall, the total number adverse events, or medical errors, reported by hospitals rose to 376, from 351 in 2017, according to the state Department of Public Health (DPH). Of the 29 categories tracked, tallies rose in 12, declined in seven and remained flat in 10. “I’m very discouraged by the report,” said Lisa Freeman, executive director of the Connecticut Center for Patient Safety. “Some of these numbers, they give me chills, they’re so frightening.