State health officials have fined a Norwalk residential care home $1,000 and ordered it to hire an independent consultant after uncovering safety violations there earlier this year.
Carlson Place was ordered to hire a consultant within four weeks of the consent order, which was signed June 26 by state Department of Public Health (DPH) officials and Carlson Place manager and owner Diane Mortali. The consultant must be familiar with public health codes, federal regulations, state building and fire codes, and others standards the facility failed to meet.
According to the consent order, which is in effect for two years, the consultant will evaluate the facility’s engineering and maintenance program, assess the coordination of daily maintenance services various vendors provide, make recommendations and report back to DPH on the facility’s compliance efforts. The facility manager must meet with DPH representatives every 90 days.
Carlson Place paid a $1,000 fine at the time the order was signed.
In unannounced inspections between Jan. 6 and Jan. 12, DPH uncovered several violations at the facility that led to the consent order.
On Jan. 1, the local fire department called a facility director, saying an alarm at the fire department indicated there was a fire at the facility. According to DPH, the director was unaware of the fire, but began evacuating residents and looking for the fire. Smoke was discovered coming from a resident’s room. One resident was taken to a hospital and the rest were moved to an alternate site until Jan. 4.
An investigation found the fire alarm failed to sound, and directors failed to follow procedure or get an accurate head count during the evacuation. Also, during a monthly fire drill on Nov. 30, 2016, the audible portion of the fire alarm had failed, according to DPH, but no repairs were made.
On Jan. 10, a resident was smoking on a porch, which is not permitted, when a maintenance staff worker forcefully pulled the cigarette out of the resident’s hand and shouted expletives, according to DPH. The resident was seen crying and police were notified. According to DPH, the person in charge at the facility failed to show there was a policy in place regarding physical or verbal abuse.
The facility also failed to provide inspectors with various documentation, including proof that the sprinkler system pump had been tested and monitored, maintenance service records for the emergency generator and fire drill documentation. Also, according to DPH, a kitchen door as well as a basement corridor ceiling were severely damaged and not up to code.
“Everything’s been resolved,” Mortali said, declining to comment further.
Under the consent order, Carlson Place must ensure sufficient staff is available to meet residents’ needs and residents are maintained, clean and comfortable. Staff members must treat residents in a respectful manner and all staff must be trained in neglect and abuse policies. The facility’s smoking policy must be enforced, the citation states.
Within seven days of the order’s signing, the facility was to designate someone on site to monitor the consent order’s requirements. DPH can increase the consultant’s hours and responsibilities if deemed necessary, and the state may issue charges if the facility fails to comply with the order, according to DPH.