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Administrators: COVID-19 outbreak at Henrico nursing home could have been avoided

Posted at 12:17 AM, Apr 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-03 00:19:29-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- 92 residents at Canterbury Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and 16 have died as of Thursday evening.

But Henrico County Administrator John Vilthoulkas said the number of cases at Canterbury could have been avoided early on and claims the care center rejected the county's help when they initially reached out at the beginning of the outbreak.

“We actually offered. To have testing done quicker sooner, had that been done, I think perhaps we would have had results sooner and had all of the providers acted sooner," Vilthoulkas said.

CBS 6 reached out to Canterbury for comment on the claims by Vilthoulkas and they said they have been working with the county and health district since the outbreak.

“Upon discovery of COVID-19, skilled nursing facilities must notify the Department of Health, ensure appropriate PPEs, educate staff, review policies and procedures, isolate impacted residents, initiate treatment plans, and reach out to residents’ loved ones. From the moment of the first COVID-19 diagnosis involving a Canterbury resident, our clinical and operational teams have been working in lock-step with the Henrico County Health Department. In fact, the Health Department team was on site touring the facility with us on the day Mr. Vithoulkas initially reached out, and Dr. Danny Avula was instrumental in connecting our team with his. Since then, we have been in regular contact with a group of thought leaders, including Mr. Vithoulkas and Dr. Avula, who have provided significant support. These partnerships have been, and remain, invaluable," said Jeremiah Davis, Administrator, Canterbury Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center in a statement.

Richmond and Henrico Health Director Dr. Danny Avuela said the big concern now in the care facilities is a severe lack of personal protection equipment or PPE. Now, they’re adapting to what he’s calling "crisis time solutions."

“We’re starting to move to more permanent things that can be disinfected in between uses," Dr. Avula said. "It’s an extreme challenge because we don’t have enough disposable PPE to do that so we’re having to adapt to these crisis time solutions.”

Going forward, another solution to slowing down the outbreak will be to test patients who are asymptomatic.

“That will lead to being able to cohort patients differently," Dr. Avula said. "So to your question, will it make a difference? I mean it’s a different context and my hope is absolutely it will and we’ll just have to see what happens over the next couple of weeks.”