nursing homes

Families, Workers Frustrated as COVID-19 Threatens Nursing Homes

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It’s when the phone calls to her grandmother at her nursing started to fade Monday that Nikki Casterson’s family knew something was wrong.

“My mother was absolutely horrified of the sight and on top of that could tell that her breathing was very clearly compromised and absolutely nothing has been done about it,” Casterson said.

Moments after Casterson’s mom and aunts saw their 90-year-old mother through a window at nursing home Wednesday they called for an ambulance. Their mother was taken to Hartford Hospital and tested positive for COVID-19.

“This was surprisingly a huge shock, we thought that she was safe that the medical staff had taken precautions as far as not to be able to infect themselves,” Casterson said.

Casterson says she was told Thursday that her grandmother will likely become one of the at least 99 Connecticut nursing home residents to die from COVID-19.

“The workers are being sent out like sacrificial lambs,” Rob Baril, president of Service Employees International Union of New England said.

It’s not just residents that are at risk at nursing homes. Baril says at least 500 of Connecticut’s roughly 20,000 nursing home health care workers have tested positive or are showing symptoms of COVID-19 and one nurse from West River Healthcare Center in Milford has died.

“Workers are having to fashion their own protective gear out of trash bags and the workers that take care of the most vulnerable in our society are not trash,” Baril said.

The state has now identified four facilities to take on residents recovering from COVID-19 as nearly 100 Connecticut families have already have lost a loved one living in a nursing home. 

“Not only do I not get to see her to say goodbye but also just knowing that she’s going to be alone and that that is not fair,” Casterson said.

She says she wants the nursing home to make sure other families and health care workers know the facility has had a COVID-19 case. NBC Connecticut reached out multiple times the nursing home but have yet to hear a response back.

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