Fort Wayne nursing home mum as families confirm COVID-19 outbreak


FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Families have confirmed with WANE 15 that some residents at Bethlehem Woods Nursing Home in Fort Wayne have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The facility, which is located at 4430 Elsdale Drive near Shoaff Park on the city’s north side, is operated by American Senior Communities. It is unclear how many residents have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or if any staff members have the virus.

WANE 15 has made multiple attempts to confirm the total number of positive cases. A spokesperson would not confirm or deny if there has been an outbreak in the facility. However, two families told 15 Finds Out investigator Angelica Robinson that their loved ones contracted the virus there.

Karen Likes said her family learned from a staff member that a resident at Bethelehem Woods tested positive for COVID-19 on April 9. A “no visitor policy” has been in place since early March, Likes said.

On Easter Sunday, she learned her 95-year-old aunt, Delores Nodine, was being tested for the novel coronavirus after she and her roommate began showing symptoms. Nodine’s test came back positive, according to Likes.

Nodine died a week later.

“It was just fast, you know,” Likes said. “We thought maybe she would make it through it. We couldn’t get in to see her. We couldn’t be with her. And I’m sure other families are struggling with that same thing.” 

Teena Morris said she and her siblings learned that several residents tested positive for the novel coronavirus from a former employee. Their mother has been a resident at Bethlehem Woods since late January. The family demanded that she be tested. She also tested positive for the virus, Morris said.

“It’s tough,” she said. “It’s tough.”

Now the family wants answers.  They want to know how many people have been infected in the nursing home, how many have died, and what staff members are the the doing to stop the spread. 

Instead, they said they are getting the run-around. 

“It is so difficult to live with and deal with, not only our mom being exposed to it in this nursing home, but that she tested positive,” said Morris’ sister, Marquetta Brabson-William. 

Federal regulations require long term care facilities to notify families of positive cases and deaths in their buildings.

“Medicare and medicaid regulations are requiring them to notify families of any positive cases and update them on any additional positive cases and to update them on any deaths that occur in those facilities,” Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said in a daily press briefing.

Dr. Box has fielded questions daily about the state reporting nursing home cases. She said that responsibility lies with the nursing home administrators.

During Thursday’s daily press briefing, Dr. Dan Rusyniak who is the Chief Medical Officer for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance clearly asked nursing homes to identify one person in the facility who would be responsible for communicating the COVID status of that facility to families and the residents.

Rusyniak said the state is now working to put out further guidance by Monday with regards to how long term care facilities should report cases.

“We will be following up when we hear that there might be complaints from families that they are not getting [notified] to make sure indeed that the resident’s representative is being told of the COVID status in the facility and particularly if that status has change,” said Rusyniak.

Rusyniak also said administrators should let people who will be coming to the facility know if there has been a postive case of COVID-19 there.

WANE 15 has made multiple attempts to help this family and others get answers. However, Sherri Davies, a spokesperson for the nursing home, will not confirm or deny if there are cases. Davies did send us the following statement:

The health and wellness of our residents and employees remains the top priority. We are in close contact with local and state health authorities and following their guidance along with national and CDC recommendations and mandates.  American Senior Communities continues to follow stringent preventative measures proactively put in place including:

  • All residents assessed daily and multiple assessments are performed for those most at risk
  • Screening of every employee and essential vendor or provider prior to entering the facility
  • All employees wearing masks and following strict infection control policies and procedures
  • No communal dining or activities
  • Strict no visitor policy except for end-of-life situations

“We interviewed and looked at a lot of different nursing homes,” said Darren Brownlee. “To put her here and find out these people are the antithesis of what they say they were is a very difficult thing to accept.” 

As for Likes, she said her family is satisfied with the care that her aunt received at Bethlehem Woods. However, she is concerned about the lack of transparency when it comes to the COVID-19 cases.  

“I thought that was a little bit strange because other nursing homes that do have it have announced it,” she said.

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