Nurse accused of working without mask after COVID-19 exposure may face criminal probe

A Connecticut nurse who allegedly went to work knowing she may have been exposed to the coronavirus and then worked without a mask may face a criminal probe, according to the Hartford Courant.

The supervising nurse reported to Norwich, Conn.-based Three Rivers Healthcare, a nursing home that has already been tied to three resident deaths due to shortcomings in care amid the pandemic. State officials said the nurse went to work July 24 not feeling well and knowing that two family members were awaiting COVID-19 test results. Several staff members told the state's health department that they saw the nurse working without a mask July 24.

The nurse told investigators that she was tested during a routine staff screening July 24 and got a positive test result three days later, and that two family members received positive test results July 26, according to the Courant.

A nurse who worked a shift with the supervising nurse later tested positive for COVID-19, according to the health department.

Mairead Painter, the state's long-term care ombudsman, said Sept. 1 that her office will seek licensure action and possibly criminal action in the case. 

"This clearly rises to the level of an elderly abuse issue," Ms. Painter said. "Someone knowingly going into a facility, not feeling well and then going maskless is reckless behavior that endangered the lives of residents and led to this tragic situation."

On Aug. 31, the health department cited the nursing home for multiple infection control deficiencies, including failure to properly use protective gear and failure to properly quarantine an exposed resident. Since the home's outbreak was discovered in early August, 22 residents and five employees have tested positive.


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