A 21-year-old is calling on nursing homes to be more transparent about COVID-19

Rossie Bratten, a 21-year-old Virginia resident, is calling on nursing homes to be more transparent about COVID-19, claiming an Arlington facility caring for his mother never informed the family of positive cases at the site. Bratten claims they only called to be told their mother had tested positive. 

Bratten said his mother, 56-year-old Sharon Bratten, has been living at the Arlington’s Manor Care Health Services nursing facility for about eight years after a medical incident left her immobile. She cannot speak.

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The 21-year-old says the call confirming his mother’s COVID-19 test came as the family was eating Sunday Easter dinner.

"To be quite honest with you, I just felt helpless and I felt the need to do something,” Bratten told FOX 5. 

He posted a video to YouTube video titled, “COVID-19 RUNNING RAMPANT IN VIRGINIA NURSING HOME.” In the video, Bratten called-out the facility for not disclosing COVID-19 information. He also filmed an ambulance arriving at the facility.

“You can tell something’s going on,” he says in the video, filming a group of people at the entrance wearing PPE gowns and masks after that ambulance arrived. 

A ManorCare spokesperson told FOX 5 they contact those directly impacted and report cases to the state health department. However, FOX 5 is learning whether in Maryland or Virginia, there is no mandate to publicly list positive COVID-19 cases within these facilities.  

In Montgomery County, a Health and Human Services Department spokesperson told FOX 5 they were naming the nursing home and assisted living facilities with positive cases early-on, to inform the community. They have since slowed-down in announcing new cases because there are so many. 

A Maryland Health Department spokesperson says the state knows of around 140 nursing home or long-term care facilities impacted by coronavirus. Virginia’s Department of Health has around 56 facilities impacted. 

Virginia’s Department of Health does post the number of nursing home and long-term care facilities impacted by county, but the state does not name the facilities involved. 

An Arlington County official told FOX 5 this is due to health care privacy laws and because they believe all of Arlington County is currently at risk for transmission.

About two weeks ago when the Layhill Center in Montgomery County, Maryland, reported a positive COVID-19 case, a spokesperson told FOX 5 they were advising families to let their residents stay and quarantine at the facility, especially because they already had the necessary safety measures in place. 

Area health officials are not saying “do” or “don’t” when it comes to whether a family should pull their loved-one out of a nursing home due to COVID-19 concerns. 

Health departments and health officials are telling families to contact the nursing home or long-term care facility to learn what safety measures are being put in place. That will help impact your decision.  
Bratten claimed he could not get information from ManorCare when he tried to call multiple times. He told FOX 5 his mother needs so much care, it would have been difficult to bring her home, but he does believe that information would inform others. 

HCR ManorCare told FOX 5 they would reach out to Bratten and his family. 

“My words to the facility would be, I understand this crisis is putting a lot of people in very unfortunate situations. I understand we are all people doing the best we can to endure and overcome during this time. Um, just I don’t know, perhaps communicate more with the families, of you know, that have loved ones in the facility. Let them know. Inform them so we can all know what’s going where these cases are emerging,” said Bratten.


Below is the full statement Beckert provided to FOX 5 on behalf HRC ManorCare:

"When we first realized that COVID-19 had reached the United States earlier this year, we began putting precautions in place such as checking and monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for all visitors, patients and employees.  Then on March 14, we added more precautions such as eliminating group activities and most visitors except for end of life reasons. We also implemented universal masking of our employees.

The Department of Health notified ManorCare Health Services - Arlington, a not-for-profit, mission-focused skilled nursing and rehabilitation center, that we have confirmed positive cases of COVID-19. We know that the frail and elderly are especially susceptible to this virus. That’s why we are in close communication with our local health department, CDC and CMS to ensure we have the latest information and resources available.  The health and well-being of our patients and employees remains our top priority.  
We have taken significant additional precautions to minimize risk to patients and employees and have had systems and processes in place to help reduce the risks associated with the COVID-19 virus. We have precautionary measures designed to protect the safety and health of patients, employees and authorized visitors.

We are:
•    Holding new admissions.
•    Taking regular symptom and temperature checks of all residents. We have reduced our temperature threshold to 99 degrees so we can address any change in condition rapidly.
•    Increased our sanitizing and cleaning processes.
•    Reviewing all inventory for personal protective equipment, such as masks and gowns, and educating staff on proper use and disposal. 
•    Working with the Department of Health, CDC and the community to minimize any additional risk.
•    Staying connected with families.
•    Regular updates and in-servicing of our care team.
•    Working with supply chain to ensure we have the appropriate PPE supplies.

Our precaution measures include creating an Airborne Isolation Unit (CAIU) as part of our infection control and treatment plan.

This means:
•    We will designate an isolation unit for patients who meet our isolation criteria. 
•    The unit will have barriers installed to protect other residents and employees and keep higher risk patients in a focused treatment area. 
•    We will have personal protective equipment dedicated to this unit.
•    As much as possible, we will have dedicated staff on the unit in CDC-approved Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This means respiratory masks, gowns, face shields or goggles and gloves.
•    Special cleaning, disposal, laundry and sanitizing measures will be enforced.

Whether we have a COVID-19 positive case, can get tests, are waiting for test results or have patients who may need additional monitoring, we manage the risk at the same level of intensity and commitment by adding enhanced monitoring and screening as well as putting into place isolation practices for patients or quarantine for employees. 

We communicate directly with employees, patients and their families if they are affected or if there is a risk of exposure in our facility. This information is constantly changing and for us to report that information publicly may just add concern and fear rather than allay it. We are happy to address any concerns or questions employees, patients and families have directly with them.

We are doing everything we can to minimize risks associated with COVID-19 in our facility. We are in very close communication with our medical director, clinical support team, and local and state health officials about the appropriate steps to serve the best interests of our patients, employees and visitors. We are instructing our staff and patients to follow the recommended preventative actions. We appreciate the Department of Health’s support in identifying and addressing this issue as well. We continue to take every precaution to prevent the spread of the infection and keep families informed."