The nursing home emailed families Wednesday that could just as easily have been attached to a live grenade.
Total census of the center: 101
Number of residents who are symptomatic and on the center’s watch list: 80
Number of COVID residents in the center and the hospital: 13
Residents whose COVID test results are pending: 2
Total number of deaths: 33
Total number of deaths with COVID diagnosis: 19
Dan Martel said he and his siblings quickly deduced that their 78-year-old mother was one of six apparently healthy residents at Atrium Post Acute Care in Park Ridge.
And with nearly 60 workers sidelined from respiratory symptoms and 25 with COVID-19 confirmed, according to the email, Claudia Martel’s family is petrified, Atrium will not be able to protect them from the coronavirus.
“I don’t really think there is a plan,” said Dan Martel, the eldest of Claudia’s three sons. “The nurses and the helpers, these poor people are left to fend for themselves. They are stressed beyond belief. “
The Martels want the facility to ask the state to help recruit nurses and aides for exhausted and scared staff who work as hard as they can but shrink in number. And they want their questions answered, not just through unilateral emails and conference calls with administrators.
“We have not seen sympathy and compassion for those who have died, and it is horrible,” he said.
A staff shortage appears to lead to a decision to move symptomatic and positive residents for COVID-19 on the same floor as their mother, said Martel. Less than a month ago, there were 144 residents on three floors; now the whole first floor is empty, he said.
“It is ridiculous that they send something so alarming – that they move people – and when you call to speak to someone, they do not pick up,” he said.
The family has since learned that their mother is in the corridor because of infected patients, and for the moment in a single room, he said. But that could change if space was limited, he added.
Yesterday, a nurse told Martel’s mother that two people on her floor had died. “She called us in a state of complete panic at almost midnight, crying hysterically,” he said.
Atrium Health & Senior Living spokesperson Hope Horwitz did not specifically address the issues raised by the Martel family. But in a statement released on Friday, Horwitz said the company was “just as concerned as everyone about the health, safety and well-being of our patients, residents, staff and the whole community.”
“We are extremely proud of Atrium associates who fight every day like soldiers for the health and well-being of our patients and residents,” said Horwitz.
The Atrium long-term care properties, owned by Spring Hills Senior Communities in 2019, accept patients who are external to COVID-19 and create separate units in other facilities. A dozen Park Ridge residents have been transferred to an Atrium facility in Woodbury, the Courier-Post reported on April 7.
Horwitz also said how many Atrium Post Acute Care residents in Park Ridge have died from the coronavirus. “There are currently 8 positive cases of COVID-19 in the facility. There have been a total of 19 deaths from COVID-19, “said his statement.
Catherine Collins-Mullen said her 87-year-old mother, Claire Collins, died in Park Ridge on April 6. But she is not among the 19 deaths attributed to the deadly virus, although she heard and saw her mother have a cough and difficulty breathing.
The school never tested it because they told it there weren’t enough tests, said Collins-Mullen.
On the night of his death, Atrium sent an email with the regular COVID-19 summary of statistics, but no new deaths were reported, said Collins Mullen. “I thought, you are not counting my mother because you have not tested her? It’s a big concern. ”
“They said she died peacefully. We do not know. It’s the most heartbreaking thing, “she said.
The state suspended visiting privileges a month ago. But thanks to her mother’s social worker, Amanda Alvarez, the family had several phone and zoom visits before Claire’s death. Holding placards saying “We love you, mom” and “Thank you to the staff at Atrium,” said Collins-Mullen, his son and sister also stood outside in the rain and talked on the phone with his mom about the on the other side of the flat glass door.
Claire Collins, a woman who loved to laugh and sing, sang “Singin’ in the Rain “to her worshiping family.
Like the Martels, Claire’s family said they had nothing but praise for the nurses, aides and social workers.
“Our hearts go to the staff – we have no complaints for them,” she said.
Between the unanswered questions and knowing that staff and her remaining mom’s friends are in danger, “I can’t mourn her death,” said Collins-Mullen. “They need help. “
Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said Friday that 9,094 residents of nursing homes tested positive for New Jersey coronavirus, and 1,530 died.
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Susan K. Livio can be contacted at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @SusanKLivio.