100+ COVID-19 cases reported in outbreak at Chesterfield skilled nursing facility

Posted at 11:13 AM, Nov 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-30 18:26:43-05

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- More than 100 people have contracted the coronavirus at a Chesterfield skilled nursing facility.

The outbreak was reported at the Laurels of Bon Air Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center on Bon Air Crossings Drive.

Chesterfield Health District Director Dr. Alexander Samuel confirmed that the county was notified of the initial case on November 5 with a majority of the cases reported within the following two weeks.

As of November 25, 98 residents and 36 staff members have or have had contracted COVID-19, according to the facility's website.

The facility reported 101 positive cases within the past month, according to the health district.

Currently, 62 residents and 17 staff members have the coronavirus inside the facility.

"The facility had not been allowing indoor visitation, so the most likely source would be an infected staff member reporting to work, which has been consistent with what we are generally seeing at long-term care facilities lately, as case numbers are increasing so steeply in the community," Dr. Samuel wrote in a statement.

According to facility spokesman Ryan Zimmerman, there have been a total of five COVID-related deaths among residents associated with the outbreak, and three of the individuals were receiving hospice care prior to contracting the virus.

A patient diagnosed with COVID-19 living inside the facility spoke to CBS 6 on condition of anonymity.

"Most of my friends on my floor, at least 10 of my friends, have past away that I was close to," that patient said. "I think it’s mostly from they got too comfortable and they started moving people around -- and you can’t do that."

The patient said their family has been working to move her to a different facility.

"It’s like a burning pit in the middle of my stomach. It’s like family dying. This is our family here," they said. "We can’t leave here. We can’t go anywhere and it feels like a burning pit in my stomach that they are gone."

Nancy Bowlin's husband, Jasper, lived at Laurels of Bon Air until he was moved to the hospital on Wednesday, November 25. She said he was diagnosed with the coronavirus on November 19 and then placed into a COVID-19 wing.

The 72-year-old spent Thanksgiving in the emergency room and was moved to an ICU bed on Saturday. Jasper passed away on Sunday.

"The nursing home never, never once made a call to the home to tell us my husband had COVID. He told us. That’s the only reason we knew," Bowlin said. "It was all a very rough, emotional roller coaster not being able to get in touch with people."

Bowlin last saw her husband during a Facetime video call from his hospital bed.

"I want to know how [COVID] got in there. How you kept the place clean for so long. Instead of hearing excuses as to why COVID 19 got in there. I want answers," Bowlin demanded.

Zimmerman said positive residents are treated in isolated COVID “containment units” within the facility. Staff members in these units work exclusively with COVID-positive residents and do not have contact with non-positive residents.

"The facility has been cooperative and has been doing what it can to address this outbreak, including surveillance testing to locate residents and staff who might be positive, but who aren't showing symptoms," Samuel explained.

"As the safety and well-being of our residents, employees, visitors and surrounding community is our top priority, we are doing everything we can to limit the spread of the virus. The Laurels has been implementing and acting on guidance from external agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Department of Health and Human Services since February 28, 2020," Williamson wrote.

Residents who test positive receive supportive care in a designated COVID unit at the facility or are transported to a local hospital for additional treatment, according to the statement.

"Our advice to the family of residents is to continue to support your resident through phone and video calls, to support facility staff as they work to provide quality services, and to do your part to reduce exposure risk to yourselves," Samuel stated.