NEW BRIGHTON (KDKA) — Beaver County has seen a startling spread of Coronavirus at the county’s largest nursing home, the Brighton Rehab and Wellness Center in Brighton Township.
Nurses are walking off the job at Brighton Rehab and Wellness Center in Beaver County citing unsafe working conditions. In just one week, 34 residents tested positive for COVID-19, and two died.
The union said six of their workers also tested positive for the coronavirus and more tests are pending.
Now union leadership and company management are meeting to discuss how to rectify the situation.
Workers at the facility say they’re scared. They believe they don’t have the right equipment to remain safe while working, and they are hoping changes will be made and soon.
KDKA spoke to a worker at the Brighton Rehab and Wellness Center about the dire situation happening inside the facility.
She didn’t want to be identified, but said she’s already experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
“A simple cough can be spread just like that,” she said. “So you’re worried, ‘what if I already spread it to my family?’ You don’t want to touch nothing.”
“I’m standing here telling you that I’m a frontline nurse and was refused one and the products were there,” Tamera Witherspoon said about a N95 mask.
Witherspoon tells KDKA she walked out of the building on Saturday and has not returned since.
“Financially I probably shouldn’t make that decision, but it’s not about finances it’s about my health and another person’s health,” Witherspoon said.
One certified nurse aide tells KDKA she’s at home without pay waiting to find out if she tests positive.
“People are scared, they are bringing changes of shoes so they can change their shoes right outside their car. They are spraying themselves down,” she said.
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People who have family members at the facility see the staff shrinking, some even pulling their loved ones out for better protection.
“Well the nurse basically said that to me with 100% certainty, everybody is going to get it. How she knew that, I don’t know but that was the final straw,” said Connie S who pulled her mother out of Brighton Rehab on Monday.
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Matt Yarnell, the union president, said: “Management has not taken the initiative to actually schedule a meeting to bring the workers’ leadership and union into conversations about how to deal with this.”
He says there are four things they are requesting.
Better protective equipment, any worker out because of COVID-19 should be paid by the employer and not be forced to use their sick time, hazard pay, and they want any residents in the center who do have the coronavirus to be isolated.
“There’s no messing around at this point. With over 20 cases positive and residents and several staff, this thing is going to spread like wildfire if it’s not contained,” Yarnell said.
It was just last week, according to the union, when around 20 workers walked off saying conditions were unsafe.