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State puts Groton treatment facility on probation over adenovirus outbreak

Groton — An outbreak of adenovirus at a Stonington Institute recovery center prompted state Department of Public Health officials last month to order that the facility’s licensee take immediate action to protect “the health, safety, and welfare of patients.”

Some people infected with the virus were hospitalized and several became seriously ill and had to be treated in the intensive care unit, the facility said in a statement it was ordered to provide to its clients and staff.

Adenoviruses cause mild to severe respiratory illnesses and can pose a serious threat to people with compromised immune systems.

After an investigation, the department placed the Trails Corner Recovery Center at 40 High Rock Road on two years’ probation, according to a consent order signed by Public Health Commissioner Renee Coleman-Mitchell and Stonington Institute’s executive director, William Aniskovitch.

A Stonington Institute official confirmed that Trails Corner, a residential mental health facility for patients recovering from alcohol and drug addiction, had “several” cases of the adenovirus between last Sept. 1 and Dec. 3.

“As soon as we became aware of the issue, we immediately took several actions to address, contain and resolve the situation,” Marissa Thomas, Stonington Institute’s manager of community relations, wrote in an email. “We halted admissions on Dec. 3, 2019 until we made a variety of changes to our surveillance and cleaning protocols and worked closely with and followed the guidance of CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and Connecticut’s team of state epidemiologists.”

In accordance with the consent order, Trails Corner re-opened to admissions “after sustaining a period of 14 days with no new cases of the virus,” Thomas wrote.

“We have satisfied all the requirements and addressed the recommendations of the CDC as it pertains to the identification, containment, and on-going surveillance,” she wrote. “We have had no issues since re-opening admissions.”

Aniskovich, a Branford attorney and former state senator, said Stonington Institute would have no comment beyond Thomas' email response. Stonington Institute, or Stonington Behavioral Health, is owned by United Health Services, whose headquarters are in King of Prussia, Pa.

On Dec. 12, state health officials issued an initial “emergency order” after twice visiting Trails Corner in response to a complaint about the adenovirus outbreak. During the visits, “significant concerns with infection control continued to be identified,” the order said.

Numerous violations of the state health code were cited, including the facility’s failure to implement infection control plans in a timely manner; a lack of qualified housekeeping staff; inadequate training of staff and clients in regard to infection control, including “hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette;” inadequate cleaning of the facility; and improper use of cleaning products.

The consent order called for Stonington Institute to contract with an “independent nurse consultant” trained in infection prevention and control, and for the consultant to conduct an assessment of Trails Corner by Dec. 30, 2019. Stonington Institute also was required to hire “a healthcare environmental cleaning company ... to clean, disinfect, and maintain the Facility in a safe and sanitary manner” during the probationary period.

As of last week, a second independent nurse consultant was to regularly visit the facility for up to 12 weeks to ensure the first consultant’s recommendations were implemented.

While on probation, the facility is prohibited from implementing any new patient care services without the Department of Public Health’s prior approval. During the first year of probation, neither the licensee (Stonington Behavioral Health) nor “any beneficial owner of the licensee” may acquire an interest in another treatment facility without the department’s prior approval.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

 

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