“We were not notified”, woman calls for more transparency from nursing homes

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Camp Hill, Pa. (WHTM)- The Gardens at West Shore in Camp Hill is one of many nursing homes that has come under fire during the coronavirus pandemic for lack of transparency.

“We were not notified of positive COVID-19 cases in the nursing home that my mother is in,’ said Rochelle Smith.

Rochelle’s 90 year old mother, Rosie Nicols, was living at the Gardens at West Shore. Rochelle says she got nervous back in April when she heard from a friend that a resident at the nursing home may have COVID-19.

“April 16 I called to speak with my mother and I asked the nurse on the phone directly do you have any positive cases of coronoavirus and I was told no,” said Rochelle. “April 25th we got a call that my mother’s oxygen level was very low and they asked if I wanted her to go to the hospital, of course we said yes. A few hours later we got a call she was positive with COVID-19. That was devastating because we were not made aware. There was no transparency as to what was going on in this nursing home. We were shocked.”

Rochelle says if she had known earlier there were cases at the nursing home she would have brought her mother home.

“It is a disgrace. There should be federal guidelines,” said Rochelle.

On April 19, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid services announced new regulations which requires nursing homes to inform residents and their families of COVID-19 cases in their facilities. Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine addressed this in a recent press conference.

“We understand that communication has not been as good as it should be so we are trying to balance privacy concerns and their legal right to privacy for the residents of the home versus the loved ones and the public’s right of know,” said Dr. Levine.

The Gardens at West Shore said privacy laws prohibit the release of protected healthcare information to abc27.

“While privacy laws prevent us from providing protected healthcare information we will continue to send out updates to residents, responsible parties and staff both informally and formally as we did by letter April 13, 2020,” said Beverly Fry, Administrator, The Gardens at West Shore.

“We never received one. Why would you rely on the mail for something like this. This should be a phone call,” said Cindi Smith, Rochelle’s wife.

Rochelle’s mom was sent to hospice shortly after she was diagnosed with the virus.

“We do video calls and she is unresponsive, but that’s how we have to say good bye,” said Rochelle.

Rosie Nicols passed away April 28, 2020. Due to the virus Rochelle could not be at her mother’s side.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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