CARLISLE, Pa. (WHTM) – On the same day that critical data was released concerning Pennsylvania nursing homes, an employee at a Carlisle long-term care facility described what she called “deplorable” conditions inside the center.
The woman, who we are not naming to protect her identity, said Manor Care Carlisle is not properly equipping its staff with PPE (personal protective equipment) and that the storage protocols in place for gowns and masks is not up to par.
“You’ve got PPE on the floor, you’ve got it hanging in places it shouldn’t be,” she said, explaining gowns are often hung on top of each other on hooks. “At this point, it’s just pure chaos. Basically we were given one gown, one N95 [mask]. You have everyone’s reused gowns on top of everyone else’s, you’ve got N95 masks hanging with other people’s masks. There’s bio-hazard bags of trash being stacked up in closets that are not being disposed of properly or you know, in a timely manner.”
What’s worse, she said, is that employees have been told to reuse PPE from room to room, patient to patient.
“We were using it in one room with a resident, and then coming out and putting it in a paper bag, and then if we had to go into another room we were taking it back out and putting it back on,” she said. “And then walking into a different resident’s room with that same mask on. That’s what we were given, you know, that’s what we were told. We had to reuse time and time again, that they weren’t supposed to be disposed of because they weren’t gonna furbish anymore.”
A Manor Care spokeswoman said the hanging of gowns is how they instruct staff to conserve gowns, while other PPE like masks are sometimes stored in paper bags. That spokeswoman said PPE is discarded when dirty or wet, and that right now the center has “enough PPE for what we need.”
She claimed the center has been determined to be in “good order” by their management team.
But our employee believes when issues are raised to those managers, it falls on deaf ears.
“Even when you try to talk to HR, that sort of thing, you just don’t get a response back,” she said. “The director of nursing does not want to hear any opinion from anyone.”
She claims a paper hanging up in the facility (which she sent us as proof and can be seen in the video above) shows inconsistent protocol from management for how to deal with a positive COVID-19 patient; right now, the center only has one confirmed case.
“One day we would be given one set of instructions, and the next day, that would be crossed out and it’d say something completely else,” she said. “With the PPE, we shouldn’t be walking out of that room that’s positive and hanging those gowns on a hook…they should be disposed of!”
She also alleges that temperatures aren’t being taken despite what protocol brochures say the center is doing to combat and control the virus. Those brochures also claim the facility put a hold on new admissions into the facility months ago – but she said that isn’t true.
“Them taking temperatures as far as entering the building and leaving the building, it’s not been done as they’re stating,” she said. “They didn’t stop accepting new patients until five days ago whenever they were made aware that we had a positive case.”
With many results for patients still pending in the facility, she’s worried about cross contamination and being exposed to the virus due to the constant reusing of PPE.
“We’re not sure at this point how many cases are gonna come back positive, and so we’re going in these rooms, and we’re not protected, at all,” she said.
Below is the entire response we received from Julie Beckert, spokeswoman for Manor Care:
“The center has one COVID-19 positive patient. The individual is in isolation in a private room. We have designated another room for storing, conserving, donning and doffing of PPE. As you know PPE has been in short supply for the long-term care industry. This is especially true in Pennsylvania. Our guidelines include training employees on proper use, donning, doffing and conservation of the PPE we have inhouse. We follow the CDC’s guidelines for conserving PPE.
In your message, the images you describe is how we conserve gowns. They are either hung up or stored in bags. Other PPE is secured in bags as well. PPE is discarded when dirty or wet. Currently the center does have enough PPE for what we need. We only use full PPE on our isolation unit which includes one patient. Otherwise we are following the strict monitoring, handwashing, social distancing and universal masking recommended by the CDC.
We have open communication with our employees and have been conducting ongoing huddles to prepare them for COVID-19. We have sound protocols in place as well as training material and this has all been reviewed with employees. Our regional team is in the center meeting with employees and reviewing the center and have reported that the center looks in good order. We have been able to cover our staffing needs at this time.”