COVID-19 outbreak at Harrington Court rehabilitation center in Colchester


COLCHESTER, Conn. (WTNH) — The Harrington Court rehabilitation center in Colchester is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak among residents and staff, News 8 has learned from the Chatham Health District.

Out of 84 patients at the center, 46 have tested positive. Eleven staff members have tested positive as well, for a total of 56 cases at the site.

A doctor at the facility said a patient transferred in from a local hospital was positive, no one knew it at the time, and that’s how they believe the infection got into the community.

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The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) said it was first notified on Sept. 16 that a resident tested positive. Three days later, the department learned that five residents and three staff members were positive. On Sept. 18, DPH surveyors conducted an on-site inspection of the facility and found several infection control deficiencies.

“DPH has since conducted six follow-up surveys and found additional infection control issues which the facility is addressing and for which the facility will be cited,” officials said in a statement.”

Eleven of the positive patients have been moved to a sister facility owned by the same company — Genesis Healthcare.

“They transferred out a number of patients because there are certain precautions you have to go through, and sometimes they need private rooms and they might not have the ability to do that, so they sent them to areas where they will be safe and cared for,” said Mary Bylone, First Selectman.

Staff is still working to separate positive and negative cases.

The DPH is on-site assisting with infection prevention, cohorting, testing and other mitigation efforts.

Staff told News 8 that residents are being screened three times per day and visitation restrictions have been put in place.

They also said outside medical appointments have been canceled, except for emergencies.

A full list of steps the facility is taking can be found online.

A woman told News 8 her mother, who was a patient at the center, contracted COVID-19 and passed away on Sunday.

She said that her mother was inside the center on Friday, and she received a call that her mother tested positive that day. On Saturday, Harrington Court called to tell her that her mom had a slight fever and a cough. On Sunday, the woman says she tried to call her mother and was told that her mom had passed. She said it happened so quickly that they didn’t even have a chance to FaceTime her goodbye.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health is reporting at least two COVID-related deaths at the center.

“My heart is heavy,” said staff member Deb Gideon. “Residents are as safe as they can be, and we are doing everything we can to take care of ourselves so we can take care of them, and unfortunately, staff can get it just as much as the loved ones.”

Gideon said her aunt is one of the residents who tested positive.

“My aunt is 96, and unfortunately, she is in the COVID wing, so at the end of the day, I make sure to go and see her, and she is still feisty.”

Richard Feifer, Chief Medical Officer with Genesis HealthCare issued a statement. It read in part:

Harrington Court has experienced a second outbreak with 45 residents and 11 staff members testing positive for COVID-19. We believe the outbreak started with a patient that was admitted to our admissions observation unit from a local hospital. 

 As this pandemic continues, we remain stringent with restrictions and a whole host of other precautions. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) began providing protocols and guidelines for the coronavirus, we have diligently followed them and in many cases, have gotten out in front of public health guidelines, adopting even more stringent infection precautions than were recommended at the time. We also continue to follow the direction of the Connecticut Department of Health in an effort to contain and minimize the spread of the virus. 

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