By WILLIAM MANSELL, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — All residents at a Connecticut nursing home are being moved following a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility, which has resulted in 28 hospitalizations and four deaths since late July, according to the Connecticut Department of Health.

An emergency order issued by Deidre Gifford, acting director of the state’s department of health, called for the immediate discharge and transfer of all residents of the Three Rivers Nursing Home in Norwich, Connecticut.

“Today marks a very sad but necessary step we must take to keep the residents of this nursing home safe and healthy,” Gifford in a statement Wednesday. “This represented a risk to the health and safety of residents and staff and so we were compelled to act, based on the recommendation of the Temporary Manager we appointed. Many nursing homes in Connecticut are getting it right when it comes to managing the COVID-19 pandemic with this very vulnerable population. Three Rivers, unfortunately, was not one of them.”

The residents will be transferred to nearby nursing homes of their choice.

The state cited Three Rivers with multiple “deficiencies” on Aug. 24, including failing to maintain adequate staffing levels and failing to meet infection control standards.

Following the outbreak, a temporary manager was put in place, but that individual told health officials shortly after taking over that the facility could not meet safety standards by Sept. 30, which prompted the state to move all residents from the facility.

The temporary manager said the facility faced several issues, including the facility’s delivery of care, inadequate infection control, deterioration of systems of accountability, lack of staff education and absence of management and policy controls.

“These issues significantly threatened the health and safety of both the residents and the staff,” the Connecticut Health Department said in a statement.

Three Rivers said it approves of the state’s decision.

“This is a challenging time for Three Rivers Health Care, our residents, and our staff. Since the initial COVID outbreak, we have been cooperating with the State Department of Public Health to bring our facility into full compliance with state and federal regulations, including the engagement of a Temporary Manager to oversee the facility,” Three Rivers said in a statement, according to ABC News Connecticut affiliate WTNH-TV.

“Citing the Temporary Manager’s assessment, the Commissioner of Public Health has ordered that all residents be transferred to other facilities that can safely meet their needs. Under these circumstances, we support this order,” the statement continued. “Our priority now is acting safely and swiftly to relocate our residents to other homes, working closely with their families and loved ones.”

The New England Health Care Employees Union blasted the department of health, saying the state should have acted sooner to help residents and staff and Three Rivers.

“If the State had done a better job enforcing and ensuring compliance with infection controls and other safety protocols, including but not limited to bringing in an outside manager to take over operations based on the apparent collapse of the previous management, DPH may have avoided the drastic measures that the State has announced today. DPH must do better, much better, to ensure that infection control protocols are enforced at every nursing home in Connecticut,” the union said in a statement Wednesday.

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