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

Coronavirus

NORWICH, Conn. (WTNH) — The Three Rivers Healthcare center in Norwich was cited for serious infection control violations in a report released by the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) on Monday.

Tuesday, the head of the union which represents several employees there placed the blame elsewhere.

“We would love as an organization to partner with this administration, and with the Department of Public Health to deal with how this pandemic plays out over the next few months and period of time,” said Jesse Martin, Vice President with New England Healthcare Employees. “But, we’re waiting for that phone call. We’re waiting to be part of that partnership.”

“Originally, the state had planned to fund the broad testing of nursing home staff until the end of August,” Martin said. “It has since been extended to October.”

Martin said that’s a step in the right direction but nothing more. He pointed to the Mathematica’s interim report that said that nursing homes with low staffing had worse outcomes when it comes to COVID and higher infection rates.

With regard to Three Rivers, the DPH report said there was insufficient staffing at times to designate staffers to work exclusively with patients who tested positive for COVID-19.

“The real concern we have is that there is no plan in place to deal with outbreaks, to deal with a second wave. It’s a real concern.”

Martin went on to say that front line caregivers are part of the solution to the pandemic. When it comes to nursing homes, he said caregivers don’t get the same respect as those in hospitals.

“No, absolutely not. The vast majority of our workers are women and are Black and brown women, and immigrant women, and working-class white women. We see in our society how people are treating that population of people.”

As an organization, Martin said, he would like to “partner” with the administration and DPH to deal pandemic will play out moving forward. although, he isn’t counting on it.

“The Department of Public Health doesn’t see fit to hold people accountable. It seems ridiculous to me that in a nursing home industry that receives $1.6 billion a year for state funding, that Barbara Cass, who’s head of compliance and infection control, has only issued roughly $30,000 worth of fines. That’s less than $10.00 per resident that has died.”

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