Criminal charges could be coming for a Connecticut nursing home supervisor accused of working without a mask despite being exposed to COVID-19. Days later, the staff member tested positive for the disease and an outbreak occurred at the facility. 

The operator also has come under fire for allegedly not following emergency procedures such as cohorting infected or suspected patients. But the nurse supervisor who suspected she had the coronavirus and still worked, allegedly while not observing safety mandates, thus far faces the most severe backlash.

“Someone knowingly going into a facility, not feeling well and then going maskless is reckless behavior that endangered the lives of residents and led to this tragic situation,” Mairead Painter, a state long-term care ombudsman, told the Hartford Courant.  

An investigation by the state’s department of public health at Three Rivers Healthcare in Norwich, CT, is still ongoing. Officials so far have learned that the employee at the center of the probe was the facility’s supervising nurse, who came to work in late July even though two of her family members were waiting for their test results. 

Multiple workers told the agency that they saw the nurse working without a mask during a shift on July 24. She also told them about her symptomatic family members and that she wasn’t feeling well, according to the report. The worker tested positive for the disease three days later, and the first resident tested positive on Aug. 2. 

Five employees and 22 residents have tested positive for the disease overall since early August. An ombudsman complaint against the home facility is being considered for the way it handled the outbreak.

“We are looking at all of our options to hold individuals responsible for their action,” Painter added. “I do feel that this clearly rises to the level of an elderly abuse issue.” 

Painter added that her office plans to look at pursuing the nurse’s license, administrative action and a criminal complaint during an upcoming meeting with the Coalition of Elder Justice to determine what actions should be taken against the nurse and facility, according to the report.

“The directives were pretty clear for cohorting and they just didn’t follow the appropriate procedures,” she alleged. “It’s not like they didn’t have access to information and procedures. They just didn’t do what they were supposed to do.”