Of the state’s 215 nursing homes, 108 have at least one confirmed case of COVID-19, the state Department of Public Health (DPH) reported Thursday as it released for the first time a breakdown of COVID-19 patients by facility. A total of 1,713 nursing home residents with COVID-19 have been identified, of whom 375 have died, the DPH reported Thursday. Those 375 deaths are 39 percent of the state’s COVID-19 deaths. The nursing home with the highest number of residents with COVID-19 is the Abbott Terrace Health Center in Waterbury, with 69; followed by the Golden Hill Rehab Pavilion in Milford with 67; and the Grimes Center in New Haven, with 58, according to the DPH data. Five nursing homes had only one patient with COVID-19: Elim Park Baptist Home in Cheshire, RegalCare at Greenwich, Guilford House, Westside Care Center in Manchester, and Skyview Rehab and Nursing in Wallingford.
The sleepy town of Colebrook has no traffic lights, no police department, no public sewer or water system and no confirmed cases of COVID-19. “Knock on wood,” said Colebrook Board of Finance Chair James Millar. “I think we’re lucky. I wouldn’t say that we are doing anything that’s not being done by the rest of the state.”
On the Massachusetts border in Litchfield County, Colebrook is among eight small towns in the western and eastern portions of Connecticut that so far have not had a resident test positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, which has killed hundreds of thousands worldwide. Litchfield County had 446 confirmed cases and 24 deaths as of Monday afternoon.
Joann Rubino brought her cell phone outside to the balcony and swept the camera around for a neighborhood panorama. The sky blazed a brilliant blue, the apartment buildings an unmistakable burnt sienna. But there wasn’t a soul in sight. “It’s a beautiful spring day, but I’m not leaving the house,” Rubino, 63, said via Facebook from her Italian home. On a typical day in Castel Morrone, a town of about 3,500 people an hour’s drive from Naples, Rubino might be strolling the streets, dropping in on friends and family, stopping at a bar for a coffee or at a pizzeria—living la dolce vita.
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.
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.
The state Board of Examiners for Nursing last week disciplined three nurses, including issuing a total of $1,500 in fines and placing two nurses’ licenses on probation. The advanced practical registered nurse (APRN) license of Jane M. Buckley of Wallingford was placed on probation for a year and she was fined $500 by the board for inappropriately prescribing controlled substances from January-July 2018 to a patient despite evidence of addiction, according to her signed consent order. Buckley also failed to provide requested medical records in a timely manner, failed to maintain adequate treatment documents, and failed to appropriately assess, manage and/or treat addiction and/or mental health issues, according to the consent order. Buckley’s license had previously been reprimanded and placed on probation in June 2018 for prescribing a controlled substance to a family member without adequate treatment records in 2015 and 2016, according to the consent order. Buckley successfully completed that probation on Dec.
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.
The state Medical Examining Board voted Tuesday to discipline two physicians including issuing a $7,500 fine and one-year probation to a Weston doctor who prescribed opioids to six people without discussing pain management treatment goals or informing the patients of the risks in taking the drugs. The board also agreed to discipline a physician assistant who had told a patient suffering from a pulmonary blood clot to “lose weight.”
While working at the PCA Pain Care Center in Wallingford from 2014–2016, Dr. David Marks, of Weston, primarily prescribed opioids and no other pain care treatment to six people, according to a consent order. Marks failed to obtain patient histories pertaining to their injuries or previous pain management treatment, failed to discuss treatment goals, or warn people of the risks associated with opioids, the consent order said. He also failed to consult the state’s Prescription Monitoring and Reporting System to see if the patients were receiving prescriptions from other practitioners and failed to assess the patients’ mental status for depression or suicidality or document his findings, the consent order he signed said. The board fined Marks $7,500 and placed him probation for one year during which he’ll be required to have supervision when prescribing Schedule II or III controlled substances.