Connecticut hospital COVID-19 cases tied to nursing home outbreak

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A COVID-19 outbreak at Hartford HealthCare's Backus Hospital in Norwich, Conn., has been linked to an isolated individual from a local nursing home, Donna Handley, hospital president, confirmed to Becker's Hospital Review Sept. 4.

The outbreak originated in a specific unit at the hospital and has been linked to nine employee cases.

Ajay Kumar, MD, executive vice president and chief clinical officer for Hartford HealthCare, told The Day the hospital treated four patients from Three Rivers Healthcare and Rehabilitation in Norwich, which has already been tied to more than two dozen cases and three resident deaths. Dr. Kumar said a Three Rivers patient who initially tested negative for COVID-19 later tested positive.

A hospital worker who did not appropriately use personal protective equipment is believed to have become infected by the Three Rivers patient and then transmitted the virus to a colleague or colleagues, he told The Day.

In response to the outbreak, Backus has been focused on the safety of workers, patients and the community, said Ms. Handley.

"To ensure the safety of everyone and help stop the spread of the disease, personal protective equipment is — and has been — available to staff and patients 100 percent of the time. Any statement to the contrary is inaccurate," she said. 

"In the midst of this global pandemic, we are doing everything in our power to contain the spread of the virus and treat those infected. The recent hotspot incident was isolated to one specific unit in Backus Hospital. This unit was cordoned off and deep-cleaned multiple times since the infection was first identified. The COVID source was traced to an isolated individual from a local nursing home. Multiple COVID tests have been given to staff who were in the area.To date, nine colleagues connected with the hotspot have tested positive. Before returning to work, those colleagues need to receive two negative COVID test results. Additionally, contact tracing has been performed to identify all individuals at risk."

Ms. Handley said the hospital will continue to work closely with employees and state officials to ensure the safety of those the hospital serves and workers at Backus.

Three Rivers, which has been cited by the state for infection control deficiencies, also noted measures it has taken.

"Since the occurrence of positive COVID-19 cases reported in our home, we have been working with the state Department Public Health and its epidemiologists as we monitor the health of our residents and staff," Scott Ziskin, president and CEO of JACC Healthcare, which runs the nursing home, said in a statement provided to The Day. "This week, we submitted a comprehensive plan for corrective action to DPH, and we continue to work with DPH on a daily basis to implement the plan as the situation evolves. We offer our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of the three residents who succumbed to the virus and remain ever-vigilant in keeping everyone in the Three Rivers family safe."

This story was updated at 3:45 p.m. CDT on Sept. 4.


More articles on public health:
US coronavirus death rates by state: Aug. 21
Number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, state by state: Aug. 21
20 states where COVID-19 is spreading fastest, slowest: Aug. 21  

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