This week, Scott County has had its first two deaths from COVID-19 — men, 81 and 84 years of age.
Both were residents of Dover Manor by Harborview.
Since the first positive case of coronavirus at Dover Manor was reported on July 13, the virus has ravaged the long-term care facility. There are 45 active cases of COVID-19 attributed to Dover Manor, including 35 residents and 10 staff members, according to WEDCO, although Dover Manor officials say that number has dropped to 13 active cases of residents. WEDCO numbers do not include the two deceased.
The virus has spread to such a point, patients must be brought outside to emergency medical personnel who are cautioned against entering the building by the public health department.
“In an emergency, obviously we’ll go in, but in most cases we are asking the patients to be brought to the door,” said Chris Runyon, Scott County EMS director.
Dover Manor officials insist the situation is overblown and everything possible is being done to protect residents and staff members.
“On the news broadcast, an inaccurate number of cases was reported,” responded Pat Wise, vice president of rehab services, to a list of submitted questions. “Following CDC guidance, we currently have 13 residents that are positive with COVID-19. We feel that the best way to contain this terrible disease is by knowing who is infected. While it may appear that our facility has reported higher than average cases it is not a function of our infection control policies, it is because we are testing symptomatic and at risk residents.
“Fortunately, we have had several residents recover from COVID-19.”
Dover Manor currently has 73 residents and 109 employees, Wise said.
The number of staff members has dwindled with a number now isolated at home, which has made the situation even more dire, said a staff member who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation.
“Things were bad before COVID hit the building, but now it is so much worse,” the staff member said. “You can’t provide care. Families need to dig deeper.
“A lot of nurses working there are upset, but they’re afraid. There’s a lot going on, and it’s scary.”
Dr. Crystal Miller, WEDCO public health director, said they have received multiple complaints about Dover Manor.
“We are working with them to continue infectious disease protocol,” she said. “We educate and advise them, but we don’t manage the facilities. What you are seeing at Dover Manor is how quick the virus can spread.”
From early on, WEDCO worked with long-term care facilities to develop protocols and policies, including regular conference calls and providing resources. The close proximity of the residents combined with age and underlying medical conditions made the facilities especially vulnerable. According to several sources, Dover Manor was slow to test staff and residents for the coronavirus and when tests were finally administered, the virus was already spreading.
“Staff and residents are tested routinely, as well as at the first sign or symptom of COVID-19 from the screen process that is completed daily,” Wise said.
A COVID-19 unit has been established at the facility, but an anonymous source said student nurses are sometimes being used to take care of patients inside the unit.
“Any resident exposed to COVID-19 is isolated and tested for COVID-19,” Wise said. “If the test results indicate the resident is COVID positive, they are moved to the cohorted hall with only COVID positive residents so not to expose other residents.
“Each resident that has tested positive is moved to an isolated hall. This allows us to contain the virus and cohort our residents and care for them properly.”
Anna Tipton’s mother is a resident at Dover Manor. This week, Anna’s mother tested positive for COVID-19.
“They took her to the hospital for a (COVID-19) test, and when she returned, they put her in a room with a very frail lady,” Tipton said. “When I said something, they said the lady was already positive. But she is frail, and all this does is make her exposure greater.
“It’s really bad.”
The staff member said it is not uncommon for positive COVID-19 cases to be placed in rooms with residents who are not positive because of the lack of staffing.
Tipton said she has seen first-hand failures to follow mask protocols and a decline in her own mother’s care since Harborview purchased Dover Manor, but the coronavirus has made the situation at the long-term care facility critical. In a recent visit with her mother, while she sat outside a window, Tipton said her mother began experiencing trouble breathing. She tried for quite some time before she got someone’s attention.
“It seems they are failing to protect our most vulnerable,” Tipton said of the facility. “I have personally witnessed staff members receiving visitors without masks. If family members can’t visit, I don’t understand how staff members can have visitors come in.
“There’s a lot of smoke and mirrors. I have filed complaints with the inspector general and with the ombudsman, but even the ombudsman can’t go into the building. There is no patient advocate.”
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has been provided for staff and all precautions established by the CDC, the state and WEDCO are being followed, Wise said.
“Our staff wear Personal Protective Equipment including gowns, face shields, gloves, and additional clothing protectors that are utilized for each and every COVID-19 positive resident,” Wise said. “The Infection Control Team closely analyzes the possible exposure to each resident and staff and additionally test them for the COVID-19 virus while keeping residents that have been exposed in a quarantined area.
“All areas including table tops, doorknobs, frequently touched items are cleaned with a COVID-19, SARS-2 approved disinfectant multiple times daily in the resident rooms and throughout the building. Dover Manor has undergone four Infection Control Surveys from the state with no deficiencies. At the beginning of the pandemic, we put in place a staff screening process, resident assessment process and an Emergency Preparedness Plan for COVID-19.”
A TV broadcast earlier this week focused on social media photos of contractors without masks inside Dover Manor.
“Dover Manor is very proud of the hard work from our construction team that was completed in February 2020, which was prior to any regulations or guidelines to wear masks,” Wise said. “We are fortunate to have experienced some remodeling prior to COVID, but this has since been on hold.”
“They said those photos were taken before the shutdown, but they weren’t,” Tipton said. The photos have since been removed from social media posts.
Wise said she understands family members are concerned and upset, but everything possible is being done.
“This has been a challenging time for families since we have had to discontinue all visitors within the facility,” she said. “We communicate to each responsible party via phone of each resident and/or staff positive case within 24 hours of receiving the results. We also schedule weekly phone calls and video calls with families that would like to communicate with their family members at Dover Manor.
“We ask the community to lift our staff and residents up in prayer in these unprecedented times. We also strongly urge our neighboring facilities to test all residents and staff, as once this enemy is no longer invisible the odds of success become greater.”
Mike Scogin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.