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News

Wallingford nursing home shut down after two resident deaths

A Wallingford nursing home that once served as a COVID-19 recovery center will be shuttered after two patients died and a state Department of Public Health inspection that followed uncovered seven life-threatening violations.

The 94 residents in the Quinnipiac Valley Center will be transferred to other facilities. The DPH assigned a temporary manager to oversee the transfer of the patients and sent an emergency alert to all nursing home providers, seeking new homes for the residents.

Quinnipiac Valley Center is owned by the Genesis Corporation, a national chain, but the company has been selling some of its assets in Connecticut over the past year.

DPH spokesman Christopher Boyle said Monday night that there had been two deaths at Quinnipiac Valley Center that led to the investigation.

“Two deaths triggered the initial complaint investigation and led to an intensive federal survey and escalating federal and state intervention, including ongoing monitoring, the directed plan of correction and appointment of the temporary manager,” Boyle said.

DPH is working with the Office of the Attorney General, the state’s Long-term Care Ombudsman Program, and an assigned temporary manager to facilitate safe and appropriate transfers for all the residents.

Investigators with DPH’s Facilities Licensing and Investigations Section entered the building on Feb. 10 after receiving a complaint. The initial survey resulted in two findings of “Immediate Jeopardy,” meaning the violations were serious enough to risk imminent harm to life. DPH officials didn’t specify what the violations were.

DPH directed a plan of correction, which included the appointment of the temporary manager on March 3. The temporary manager reported to DPH additional issues with the facility, including, among other things, systemic problems with medication errors, DPH officials said.

DPH then identified five more instances of immediate jeopardy related to failure to administer medications appropriately and accurately to residents and failure to report adverse incidents, according to DPH.

The facility also has been experiencing significant failures with infection control, DPH officials said.

“Quinnipiac Valley Center is committed to the safety and well-being of our patients and residents,” said Genesis spokeswoman Lori Mayer. “Recently, Quinnipiac Valley Center received deficiencies related to surveys conducted at the center and a temporary manager was assigned to the Center by the Connecticut Department of Health.”

“At this time, the Center is currently cooperating with the temporary manager regarding the discharge of all patients and residents to other local facilities,” Mayer said.

“Any instance of Immediate Jeopardy is troubling, and most facilities can correct these deficiencies relatively quickly and successfully,” wrote DPH Commissioner Manisha Juthani. “Seven instances of Immediate Jeopardy are unprecedented in Connecticut and absolutely unacceptable.”

“We have given QVC ample time to correct the issues, and DPH staff have been monitoring the facility almost daily. We no longer have confidence that the facility can keep its residents safe. Moving people from their homes on short notice is a serious action that we do not take lightly. But we are convinced that this order is necessary to ensure the safety of all the residents there.”

“This transfer order is a rare and extreme measure, reflecting severe standard of care concerns at Quinnipiac Valley Center. The findings regarding patient neglect, staffing, infection control measures, medication administration and their lack of leadership led to a finding of imminent harm by Commissioner Juthani, leaving the state no choice but to intervene,” Attorney General William Tong said. “Our Health and Education Section is continuing to provide legal support to the Commissioner.”

The closing of a nursing home on such short notice is very rare.

The last time the state did so was during the pandemic, when the Three Rivers Nursing Home in Norwich was closed after a COVID outbreak caused by a nurse returning from vacation and bringing the virus into the facility.

Four people died of COVID in the Norwich facility.

The Wallingford facility, which was only about half full, served as a COVID-19 recovery center as recently as a few months ago. Genesis was transferring its own patients there along with patents from other nursing homes that didn’t believe they had the amount of staff needed to care for recovering COVID patients.