PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Pennsylvanian’s nursing homes continue to be hit hard by COVID-19, accounting for nearly 70 percent of the coronavirus-related deaths statewide.
Here in our region, KDKA Investigator Andy Sheehan reports 80 percent of coronavirus-related deaths have been residents in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
At these facilities, the virus has become a deadly contagion that’s defied all effort to contain it. Now, grieving families want to see stronger action.
Cynthia Motton and her family say they had to stand by powerless as coronavirus spread through Glen Hazel Kane Regional, taking the life of their father, Charles Graham, and 11 others. Now they want to know if more could have been done.
“There’s no words to say how heartbreaking this is,” said Motton.
Out of the 3,012 total deaths across Pennsylvania, state officials say 2,029 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities.
State health officials report 306 residents and 96 staff members at 35 long-term care facilities have tested positive. According to the state, there have been 86 deaths at those facilities.
At Kane Glen Hazel, 67 residents and 41 employees who have tested positive for the virus.
Case counts at the rest of the county’s facilities in Scott, McKeesport and Ross are staying low. One employee at each has tested positive and only McKeesport has a resident who tested positive for COVID-19.
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“We just can’t sit back and continue to watch it happen and get a phone call that your loved on is dead. That’s not good enough,” said Tim Smith, the pastor at Keystone Church.
At Glen Hazel, Allegheny County says it has followed CDC guidelines to isolate and contain the virus, but as in other nursing homes and extended care facilities across the region, COVID-19 has defied all those efforts, claiming the vast majority of its victims.
In Beaver County, the state health department reports 305 cases in residents and 23 in employees across just three facilities. Out of the county’s 73 deaths, 66 have been people in long-term care facilities.
“Look, full disclosure, my father is in a long term care facility. It’s personal,” says state Rep. Rob Matzie, whose district includes Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center where 60 people have reportedly died. He’s introduced a bill to intervene in nursing home operations to try to stop this deadly contagion.
“It basically says that all residents as well as staff would get tested and all facilities would get an inspection, and I think that’s necessary,” says Matzie.
“This has been a very challenging situation, one of the most challenging situations with COVID-19 and seniors in long-term care care facilities such as nursing homes and personal care homes,” Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said Tuesday at a press conference.
The state health departments says it’s done all it can do to equip the facilities with protective equipment while offering guidance to contain the outbreaks but critics say they were slow to test residents and staff to identify and prevent spread.
More information on the Coronavirus pandemic: