Greer nursing facility seeing handful of COVID-19 cases, local woman says she’s worried about mother inside

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GREER, S.C. (WSPA) – Like many families across the country, an upstate woman is planning a funeral for a loved one. She told 7 News she believes COVID-19 contributed to her father’s death and now she said her mother who is in the same facility, is sick too.

Ten confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the Greer Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center. That was the number officials there last gave us, that includes nine residents and a staff member.

A vulnerable spot in this battle against the coronavirus, a nursing facility.

“Most people get to touch their parents, they get to hold their hands when they’re dying and I don’t have that luxury,” said Moore Resident, Sheila King.

That’s where both of Sheila King’s parents have been staying. However she’s now dealing with a battle of her own, coping with her father’s death.

She told us he already had some underlying health issues. She said after he tested positive for COVID-19, it was only a matter of days before he was gone.

“When mama tested positive, I agreed to let them test my dad,” King told us.

Now, she’s worried about her mom who she said also tested positive for the virus.

“I say mom, fight because I can’t stand to lose two parents in one week. I can’t, I can’t do it,” said King.

There’s a handful of cases at this facility. A spokesperson there told us they have a system in place to stop the virus from spreading any farther. They said they created an isolation ward to treat residents who test positive. That includes zipped plastic sheeting and air scrubbers.

They are also restricting visitors.

As for King’s mom, she said there is hope.

“Her color is looking really, so much better. As far as coughing or anything, she has not been coughing,” King told us.

Both DHEC and the spokesperson with the Greer facility could not confirm with us if anyone has died from COVID-19 related reasons in this facility, citing HIPAA privacy laws. A spokesperson with the facility has sent us multiple statements related to the matter.

You can find those here:

“The safety and well-being of our residents and staff at Greer Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center is our top priority. Greer Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center has been following, and often is ahead, of government mandated protocols. Greer Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center has taken and continues to take proactive and aggressive early precautions, to keep our residents and staff as safe as possible, including restricting visitors from the building and instituting 100% temperature screening for staff, essential vendors, and government health care officials, before entering the building. We are in close communication with local and state health officials to ensure we are taking every appropriate step and will continue to follow all guidance provided by the CDC, CMS, and state/local health departments. In addition, Greer Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center is working closely with local hospitals and health care systems and is maintaining the necessary personal protective equipment to protect our staff. Greer Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center’s passionate and committed staff have been and will continue fighting this fight along with all healthcare professionals across the world. Greer Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center is unable to comment further regarding any resident due to HIPAA privacy laws.”

“Skilled nursing facilities house our nation’s frail and elderly, a population most at risk during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Recognizing the need to care for our residents in as proactive as manner as possible, Greer Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center (“GRH”) took aggressive early steps, before receiving any formal coronavirus guidance, in order to keep our residents and staff as safe as possible. Those preparations included holding clinical team planning sessions to ensure adequate resources and staffing, sourcing personal protective equipment supplies, and, most importantly, prior to the government mandated the practice, GRH restricted visitors from the building and instituted temperature screening for staff or essential vendors before entering the building. In addition, GRH cancelled all communal dining and group activities and implemented a rigorous preventative early-warning protocol covering oxygen and temperature levels of all residents.

Despite our rigorous systems and best efforts, we have experienced what many other health care facilities have and will continue to experience during these challenging times, the virus has entered our building. We currently have 9 known positive resident cases and one known positive staff member case. While this crisis is unprecedented, the care provided at GRH remains at the same high level as always, and our dedicated and heroic staff are continuing to care for all residents regardless of their COVID-19 status. To contain and limit the spread of the virus within the facility, GRH has constructed an isolation ward to treat residents who have tested positive, using barriers, zippered plastic sheeting, and air scrubbers creating a negative pressure environment to provide the best possible therapeutic atmosphere for residents being treated for the virus and to protect our other residents.

GRH has always believed in full transparency with family members and those responsible for our residents. All family members and responsible parties who are designated to receive such information were promptly notified after the first positive test result and we remain committed to providing regular updates as circumstances warrant.

As the administrator of the building, I can say that our organization has been ahead of our peers in preparation, however, this disease doesn’t follow any game plan. We’re trying to determine how the virus entered the building given our aggressive early precautions. We have pre-screened, quarantined as necessary, and constantly monitored the temperature of staff and anyone entering the building, including surveyors from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control who came to the building for an annual certification survey after the ban on visitors was in place. The survey team noted that our facility’s protocols for dealing with Covid-19 were both proper and effective.

We are in close communication with local and state health officials to ensure we are taking every appropriate step, including continuing to follow all of the latest “CMS Long Term Care Facility Guidelines” pertaining to infection control, screening, personal protective equipment and staffing. GRH has and will continue to follow all guidance provided by the CDC, CMS, and state/local health departments.”

Katherine Joy

Administrator

Greer Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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