A fatal outbreak of E. coli contamination that recently hospitalized at least 26 people in the U.S. and Canada—including two in Connecticut—shows that the federal government is failing to adequately protect people from consuming recalled foods, lawmakers and consumer advocates say. The outbreak that sickened the two Connecticut residents and 16 others nationally, including 1 person in California who died, was probably caused by eating “leafy greens,” but a specific leafy green couldn’t be identified, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported. The Canadian government’s Public Health Agency announced on Dec. 11 that the outbreak was linked to romaine lettuce. Maura Downes, the communications director for the Connecticut Department of Public Health, confirmed that two state residents were sickened by the E. coli outbreak.
Three years ago, Meredith Phillips’ mother, Georgia Svolos, fell and broke her kneecap, setting off a downward spiral that landed her in nursing homes on and off for a year. In one facility, she fell and broke her knee again, necessitating more surgery. All of the facilities were noisy and chaotic, and one smelled of feces. So, when Phillips learned recently about moves by the Trump administration to ease regulations and fines on nursing homes, she was alarmed. “I’m horrified and frightened,” says Phillips, who lives in Westbrook.
Six nursing homes have been fined in connection with one resident who was physically abused, one who broke a leg and one who was hospitalized with severe dehydration and later died. In two state Department of Public Health [DPH] citations on Dec. 7, Touchpoints at Farmington was fined a total of $2,810 in connection with a resident who was hospitalized in May 2015 in intensive care with severe dehydration and then transferred to hospice care. Maura Downes, DPH’s spokeswoman, said the resident died more than two weeks after the incident, but DPH officials were not able to “substantiate causation between the incident and the resident’s death.”
The home was fined $1,580 in connection with the resident’s decline in fluid intake over eight days in May 2015. The home’s records failed to show that a doctor had been notified about the resident’s fluid intake, the citation said.