DPH investigating after 9 Backus Hospital employees test positive for COVID-19, possibly in connection to Three Rivers Nursing Home outbreak

New London

NORWICH, Conn. (WTNH) — The Department of Public Health is assisting in the investigation of COVID-19 exposure at William Backus Hospital in Norwich Wednesday. Our news partners at the Hartford Courant report, this incident may be connected to the deadly outbreak at Three Rivers Nursing Home.

A source with knowledge of the investigation told the Courant Backus employees suspect a Three Rivers patient was the source of the potential exposure at the Norwich hospital.

Thursday, Hartford HealthCare confirmed nine Backus employees have tested positive for the virus.

According to the Courant, “the infected employees include a nurse, a physical therapist, physician care technicians, and a housekeeper who all worked in the same area of the hospital where a resident of the Three Rivers Healthcare facility had been a patient for several days.”

This comes shortly after the DPH released their findings from an investigation into the deadly outbreak at Three Rivers Nursing Home.

Their investigation found serious infection control violations that led to several residents and staff contracting COVID-19 and three residents’ deaths.

RELATED: Union rep. for some employees at Norwich nursing home says blame should go elsewhere for violations found by DPH

Wednesday, News 8 reached out to Hartford HealthCare – which owns Backus – in regards to the exposure at the hospital.

Their statement said the potential exposure stemmed from an “individual lapse in inappropriate use of PPE” and that the lapse was immediately addressed.

“The community outbreak in Norwich is a stark reminder to everyone that we must remain vigilant. Appropriate social distancing, wearing masks, and hand hygiene has never been more important.

Hartford HealthCare has strict infection prevention protocols that prevent the spread of COVID-19, including the appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Backus Hospital has identified an individual lapse in inappropriate use of PPE. Backus Hospital immediately addressed the lapse, conducted contract tracing, and performed COVID-19 testing following its standard response plan. Any potential exposure has been contained and Backus Hospital is operating as usual. Backus Hospital is working with DPH as it conducts a review.

Over the course of the last six months, Hartford HealthCare has treated more than 2,400 COVID-19 positive patients and system-wide antibody testing identified a transmission rate of 6.4% among health care workers, nearly the same rate as the general population.

-Dr. Ajay Kumar, Chief Clinical Officer, Hartford HealthCare

In a press conference Thursday, Chief Operating Officer for the State of Connecticut Josh Geballe said the investigation has, so far, concluded that the outbreak at Three Rivers is contained to the facility with some bleed over to Backus Hospital and “does not appear to be community spread.”

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