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News Feature

Deer Isle
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, October 7, 2021
COVID-19 outbreak puts INH departures on hold
Trombley to resign due to personal attacks

by Leslie Landrigan

The COVID-19 outbreak at the Island Nursing Home (INH) is delaying the discharge of residents as the facility winds down toward its October 26 closure date.

Because of the outbreak, the nursing home is on lockdown until October 12, said INH’s senior executive director, Matthew Trombley. It will then only have two weeks to discharge the remaining residents at a rate of three to six a day, he said. The rest of INH’s residents have already been relocated, he said.

Trombley spoke during a community forum run by Skip Greenlaw, INH’s first board president, on September 29. It was the second such forum, attended by 28 people, including seven INH board members. During the forum, Dodge and Trombley said the community had failed to support the nursing home and staff.

Dodge described herself as “disheartened” with misinformation spread in Deer Isle and Stonington. Trombley said he would leave his job at the nursing home. They said they would not answer questions from the press.

Trombley also emphasized that the Island Nursing Home will close.

“There’s no stopping this train,” he said.

The COVID-19 outbreak

One vaccinated staff member at the nursing home tested positive for COVID-19, and two residents have since tested positive. They have been quarantined according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protocols, Trombley said.

The nursing home feared staff would leave because of the outbreak, since 13 staff members walked out during the COVID-19 outbreak last winter. But staff has not resigned this time, Trombley said.

Dodge, however, said that despite requests for help with staffing, the community has not stepped up. “All these people you saw on Facebook or heard in the community, ‘I’ll take a shift,’ that has not happened,” she said.

Trombley said “little to no individuals” actually reached out to help the nursing home. “One person said they’d help in the kitchen,” he said.

But Dodge then said that four people have signed up to recertify their medical licenses and six people signed up for a certified nursing assistant (CNA) class. Four people reached out to Lori Morey, INH’s director of human resources. None had any credentials and all had full-time jobs, said Dodge.

Dodge also said that the nursing home has not received support from any local communities, including Stonington and Deer Isle.

“We’ve not had one person reach out to us to say, ‘What do the residents need when they’re relocating?’” she said. When other nursing homes have closed, Dodge said, the local communities sent care packages.

“I would love to see the community step up and do some care packages,” Dodge said. She suggested a handmade lap blanket, sugar-free candy, cards or stamps.

Trombley added the nursing home may need help transporting residents once the lockdown is lifted on October 12 and they can be relocated.

Trombley to leave

Trombley said he planned to leave his job running INH.

“I have been asked if I wanted to [stay], to be honest with you, completely honest, I have decided not to, and that is because of the level of personal attack I have received from the local community and the level of inappropriate or incorrect information that has been shared around the facility and about my style,” he said.

He said the facility has won awards, and turnover has been lower than the industry average. But, he said, “if the work isn’t going to be receptive I think that I will unfortunately look for other opportunities.”

CNAs

During the forum, a question arose about what happened to the 14 certified nursing assistants who took a course at INH several years ago.

Trombley said he believed he had to terminate four or five. Dodge, however, said six were terminated.

Trombley said two lasted two weeks. The rest of them made it longer than three months.

Dodge said three people never followed through on job offers, three moved, one went to college, one accepted a job and six were terminated for work violations.

“There’s not a single individual terminated at Island Nursing Home that has not gone through progressive discipline unless they have a drug or abuse issue,” Trombley said.