Coronavirus rumors: How misinformation affects local frontline workers

Local nursing facility asks public to stop spreading coronavirus rumors

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - As coronavirus fears grow, misinformation and rumors can make things worse for frontline workers who already have their hands full battling the global outbreak, administrators at local nursing homes say.

Management officials at High Hope Care Center in Sulphur spoke with KPLC to address the misinformation spreading on social media about their facility.

Administrator Randy Stelly said to date, the facility has had two confirmed cases: one in the building and one outside of the building, who may return once it is safe to do so.

Per CDC guidelines, the facility has isolated residents who have been out of the building, may have been exposed to COVID-19 or have exhibited symptoms, such as a fever, High Hope officials said in a post on Facebook. But the number of isolated residents in the building does not reflect active cases.

Stelly said although concerns are understandable, the spread of hearsay has hurt everyone, including frontline workers who risk their lives every day combating the virus.

“For those of us on the frontlines, this is hard and this makes it worse,” Stelly said. “The misinformation, the rumors, scare our families, it scares our staff. And we’re trying to be as open and transparent as we can.”

Information that’s taken out of context can be spread easily, and for High Hope, Stelly said the facility has been negatively impacted despite following standard protocol, which includes notifying family members and staff.

Stelly said staff members are checking temperatures every shift to monitor potential symptoms for the virus and is isolating anyone who has those symptoms.

“Isolation could be a trying situation,” Stelly said. “We’re giving information out to family members as appropriate and are upfront with our staff.”

Nursing facilities are following the same guidelines, Stelly said. Physicians are prescribing treatment, the facility is getting PPE as necessary and staff members are handling residents through the course of this virus. The facility communicates with family members and posts information on Facebook as necessary.

The best thing the community can do to help frontline workers is to stop acting on information that has not been confirmed, Stelly said, who appreciates the community sending signs of encouragement and bringing gifts.

“Please, stop spreading misinformation,” Stelly said. “When [workers] hear rumors, it’s discouraging and frightening. Makes their job so much harder."

Viewers have expressed concerns over Resthaven Nursing Home in Lake Charles, which a spokesperson has said the facility is “virus-free.” Resthaven echoed High Hope in that they are trying hard to be upfront regularly on their Facebook page.

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