Families of Lake Charles nursing home worried about COVID-19 response

Families of Lake Charles nursing home worried about COVID-19 response

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - We’ve received messages and calls from the community concerned with the COVID-19 situation at one nursing home in Lake Charles. Many are saying they are not happy with how it’s being handled.

In an update sent to resident’s families on Monday, Resthaven reports a total of 160 positive Coronavirus cases among residents and staff.

The facility’s administrator, Michael Tugwell says that number is not exactly what it seems.

“The case count that everybody is hearing is a cumulative number,” Tugwell said. “We’re required to report this number since May 8th so this cumulative number will never go down.”

Tugwell says currently, Resthaven has 39 residents and 19 employees who are COVID-19 positive. When first asked, he said none of those patients were showing symptoms, but he later corrected himself saying, “of the positive cases we have not many have had symptoms”. According to Tugwell, COVID positive residents are in a designated COVID wing. All employees who test positive are required to quarantine at home for 10 days.

As of July 21, there have been a total of 7 deaths and 73 positive cases of COVID-19 reported by the Louisiana Department of Health.
As of July 21, there have been a total of 7 deaths and 73 positive cases of COVID-19 reported by the Louisiana Department of Health. (Source: KPLC)

Dawn May’s mother is a Resthaven resident on hospice care. She says it’s reached an unthinkable level and she doesn’t understand how it got so out of control.

According to May, her mother has been in Resthaven since March, and the experience has not been pleasant. She says it’s painful knowing her Mom is going through this pandemic alone.

“I mean you can’t even express the angst that we go through on a daily basis,” May said. “You can’t sleep, you can’t concentrate. It just adds to all of the emotions that everyone is going through during these times.”

May says while they have continued to receive updates on the case count, she claims it’s been difficult to get in contact with administration at the facility for updates on her mom. She says, after multiple attempts to contact her mother’s nurse and the facility, a Resthaven employee called to tell her that her Mom tested positive for COVID.

“Finally the hospice nurse got someone to call me back,” May said, “And they just kinda tell me, oh by the way your mother has COVID.”

May says she hasn’t received much information from the facility other than her mother is “doing fine”.

Butch Benoit reports a similar experience with his dad who is also a resident.

“There’s only one person we could speak to at Resthaven, and it was hard to get a hold of her and it was hard to get any information out of her and it was always fairly vague,” he says.

Benoit’s father was recently transported to a hospital, he says for a while it was unclear why. Now, Benoit says being restricted to a hospital room is taking a toll on his father’s well-being.

“Looking at him he looks terrible, and just miserable,” Benoit said. “He just cried please get me out of here I want to go home.”

Benoit says they received word that his father was taken to the hospital due to low oxygen levels, but they don’t have an idea of when he could be released.

He says he thought serious precautions would have been taken when cases at Resthaven were in the teens, but instead he says they’ve spiraled out of control.

Both May and Benoit say communication between Resthaven and families could be a lot better.

However, Tugwell says they have been keeping in contact with families. He says residents and staff are tested weekly, and families are contacted by phone the same day if a positive result is received.

“I think we did a good job for a long time trying to keep it out of the facility,” Tugwell said. “The staff is working very hard 24/7 to take care of the residents during this. You know employees are scared but they’re doing the best that they can.”

Both May and Benoit say the hardest part has been seeing their parents spend what could be their last days in isolation. They both say the feeling of not being able to control the situation is taking a toll.

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