The Day – Colchester man who survived EEE and COVID-19 accused of abuse at rehab centers


COLCHESTER – A local man who survived eastern equine encephalitis and then returned home after more than a year at COVID-19 rehab centers where he alleged he was neglected, abused and attempted suicide. Was forced

In August 2019, Richard Pavalski was a healthy 42-year-old man and a successful physiotherapist who moved into his dream home in Colchester with his wife, Malgorzata, and his teenage daughter, Emelia. He was doing yard work on a summer day, when he was inadvertently bitten by a mosquito known as the deadly Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus, commonly known as EEE.

Pavulsky started feeling flu-like symptoms on 22 August and was soon rushed to the hospital, where she went into a coma lasting two months.

On 1 October, the mystery that made Pavulsky ill was solved, but the prognosis was unclear. Pavulsky had contracted the EEE virus, which infected his brain. Doctors said he would probably never wake up. His family was performing his last rites.

But miraculously, Pavulsky woke up. His occupational therapist called him “an unprecedented miracle”.

Slowly but surely, he began to walk and talk again. But they required months of continuous care. He was bedridden in hospitals and rehabilitation facilities for 16 months. When he could finally speak, he said he felt as if he had “gone to hell” and “would not wish this on anyone.”

Pallusky was one of four people to contract the EEE virus in 2019 – and is the only person who survived.

Just before Christmas 2020, Pavulsky finally went home to Colchester and reunited with his wife and daughter.

Although his family was very happy that eventually he had to be sent back home, his return home was not a happy occasion.

In time for Thanksgiving, Pavulsky was scheduled to be released in November from the Riverside Health and Rehabilitation Center in East Hartford, but the process was halted with insurance approval for home health care. His release was pushed back, and Richard was devastated. He had already spent a full year before his family was isolated for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic – also battling and beating coronovirus last spring – and he was ready to go home. Was.

He wanted his life back.

As Pallusky waited for insurance clearance in mid-November and early December, his chances of coming home before Christmas were weakened, dazzled by the expectation.

Then, one night, Pavulsky said that he found himself deprived of the most basic human decency – the staff hired to care for him in Riverside allegedly refused to change his diaper. He repeatedly asked to change, so as not to sit uncomfortably in a diaper so that he could go to sleep. The staff said, made fun of him for his weight and then ignored his pleas for help. They had removed his call button, so he could not call for assistance, and when they stepped into the hall for help, they ordered him to return to his room. From his room, he could hear them laughing.

And in that moment, Pavulsky lost all hope. He said he reached his closet and took out a wire coat hanger. He removed the hanger and straightened it. He wrapped it in his throat and tried to end his life.

Pavulsky was rescued by a staff member who eventually accepted his first cry for help and was then transferred to Hartford Hospital. Malgorzeta received a call that nearly broke her heart – she was told that her husband, close to coming home, had attempted suicide.

In December, she sat in her house holding her husband’s hand, she had tears in her eyes, as her husband recalled the moment she had put a hanger around her neck.

“He just lost all hope,” she said.

When Malgorzata arrived at Hartford Hospital, she decided that she would take him home. He will not return to Riverside.

“Why would we send him back to a place he wants to die?” he said.

Pavalski was on Riverside from May to December 2020. During that time, he said he was repeatedly neglected, left to sit in dirty diapers for hours and hours, denied access to the phone to talk to his family – even That even during the height of the COVID – 19 epidemic, when visitors were not allowed. He said he was made fun of by staff members who made fun of him for his weight and told him that his wife was going to leave him, because of how she looked.

Pavulsky said that his call button, his only way to indicate that he needed help to be confined to a wheelchair that he could barely take on his own, was taken away from him. His family complained that he needed to call for help, but it was never withdrawn, he said.

Towards the end of his stay, Pavulsky said that a male employee working in the evening shift started hitting him on his arms and body. His family still has photographs on his phone of large yellow scratches on his body.

Riverside’s administrator did not respond to repeated requests to The Day about allegations of abuse and neglect on Pallusky.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health is still processing a public records request filed by The Day requesting information on any instances of misconduct reported at Riverside, or at Salmon Brook Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Glensbury , Where Pavlusky preceded her move to Riverside.

In Salmon Brook, Pavulsky stated that he had never been physically abused, but had been neglected. Salmon Brook operatives said they had no comment on allegations of neglect or misconduct.

During 2020, Pavulsky’s wife and daughter said they were so desperate that they called police several times to ask for help and to complain of neglect at both centers. Richard also called police from rehab centers, he said.

Lt. Joshua Litwin of the East Hartford Police Department said the department has a record of a phone call made about Pavulsky’s care in Riverside. Litwin said Pavulski’s daughter complained to East Hartford Police in the fall of 2020 that she could not reach her father. The dispatcher told her that, regrettably, this was not a police issue as there were no criminal complaints and suggested that she contact facility management.

Litwin said that in his 20 years with the police department he has never heard of any criminal complaints related to Riverside.

Marshal Porter, head of the Glensbury Police Department, said his department has no record of any phone calls accusing cell phone brooks of misconduct or neglect.

Now that Richard is at home, his wife and daughter say they are facing a new nightmare.

The family, for over a month, has been desperately trying to get approval from the state for Richard to receive home care, which requires round-the-clock care to move, eat and use the bathroom. His wife said he had been told that approval was delayed because he left his rehabilitation program early. She was brought home early, she said, because she was so misbehaved that she wanted to die.

His wife has taken extensive time off from a job at Middlesex Hospital in Middlettes. Her coworkers generously donated her paid time so that she could take care of her husband.

But they are running out of time, and they are disappointed. He said that for them, trying to work with social workers and state officials is almost a full-time job to help with their household expenses and SNAP benefits to help with their expenses that they now have Have the same income. Amelia, a 10th-grade student at Bacon Academy School, often has to leave her virtual classes early, or to make a full phone call and help her father when he needs something.

They call social workers day in and day out, but get no response, no relief.

“My family never asked anyone for help,” Malgorjata said through tears in December. “We have always worked hard and taken care of ourselves, and now that we need help, no one is there for us.”

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