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State Finds Bedbugs, 'Grossly Soiled' Conditions At Norwalk Care Facility

Camila Vallejo
Connecticut Public
Carlson Place on June 24, 2021

Carlson Place, a residential care facility in Norwalk, has been ordered to move all of its residents after a state investigation that found nearly two dozen public health code violations. Included on the list were inadequate food supplies, “grossly soiled” bathrooms and live bedbugs.

The state attorney general said Thursday that a new buyer had been identified for the facility and that all residents will be moved out of the building to allow for a complete renovation.

In an emergency order issued on June 8, state investigators detailed a long list of complaints against the 29-bed home. In addition to an inadequate food supply, the Department of Public Health said Carlson Place “failed to ensure appropriate serving size and nutritional value foods” for residents. 

Additionally, DPH officials, who carried out inspections from late April through early June, said the facility was not adequately staffed to meet residents’ day-to-day care and medication needs.

The listed administratorof the facility, Diane Mortali, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday morning.

Licensed by the Department of Public Health, residential care homes provide residents a single or double furnished room and shared common areas. They are also supposed to provide three meals a day and some limited personal services. 

At the time of the emergency order, DPH said 27 people were living at Carlson Place. State officials said all will be eligible to relocate to the nearby Westport Rehabilitation Complex.

As of Wednesday, one resident had already moved out.

A spokesperson for Attorney General William Tong said in a release Thursday that “a buyer has been identified who has agreed to purchase and renovate Carlson Place at his own expense.”

Tong’s office said that the state entered into a pre-licensure consent order with the new owner, Dr. Syed Reza, and that the order details extensive renovations that must be completed before a license will be granted.

“Once that license is granted, prior residents of Carlson Place will be given the opportunity to safely return home,” Tong’s office said in an emailed statement. 

DPH’s June order outlined a long list of health violations having a direct impact on the day-to-day lives of people at Carlson Place. 

Light covers were missing in bathrooms, floor tiles were missing or buckled throughout the facility, dressers in resident rooms were broken or missing drawers, and furniture in the center’s lounge and TV area was broken and soiled, according to the report.

“The bathrooms throughout the facility are grossly soiled and in disrepair,” the report states. “Numerous ceiling tiles were wet, stained and had fallen onto the floor from recent moisture penetration.”

DPH officials wrote that mattresses were “cracked and soiled” and that “live bed bugs were noted on the mattresses.”

As a result of the June 8 order, Carlson Place must stop new admissions, provide state officials with daily meal plans and menus until all patients are discharged, and allow immediate building access to qualified inspectors. 

The state’s advocate for residents of long-term care facilities praised efforts to protect the facility’s residents.

“I was very happy to hear that there was a potential opportunity for the residents to return to their home under much improved circumstances,” state Long-Term Care Ombudsman Mairead Painter said in an emailed statement. “The previous conditions were totally unacceptable, and maintaining quality homes should always be our priority.”

Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached at pskahill@ctpublic.org.

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