PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Nancy Pateline’s mother Barbara is a resident of St. Barnabas Nursing Home. Paterline knows her mother has coronavirus but doesn’t how many other resident have been infected or how many other have died from it. St. Barnabas won’t tell her.
“The nurses and aides have been wonderful but as far as the condition, the overall health conditions in the nursing home, they’ve told us nothing. Nothing at all,” she said.
While the number of coronavirus cases in our general population remain low, nursing homes and long-term care facilities continue to be contagions of death for our most vulnerable citizens.
In Allegheny County, 90 of our 117 COVID-19 deaths have involved the residents of these facilities. In Beaver County, it’s 71 out of 78. And in Westmoreland County it’s 26 out of 29.
In our seven-county metro, 191 of the total 238 COVID-19 deaths involve residents of those facilities. Eighty percent of the toll from this deadly virus is confined to these facilities.
Meanwhile the rest of us are living in relative safety.
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“It really a nursing home problem and we think we need to focus on that if we can, but we believe it’s fairly safe in the community now to move forward,” said Dr. Steven Shapiro of UPMC.
But the homes themselves are under no legal obligation to inform families or the public of the number of cases or deaths in their facilities. People around the region have complained to KDKA that their parent’s homes have been unresponsive.
Richland Township’s zip code — the home of St. Barnabas — has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the county at 91. And staff members have anonymously told KDKA that more than two dozen residents have died here. But St. Barnabas will not comment to us or answer Nancy Paterline’s inquiries.
“I think they owe it to us to be more transparent not only to us who have family in there, but to the resident of this community. A lot of people are looking to reopen and we have the highest number of anybody,” she said.