Over two weeks ago we began reporting on the situation at the Corpus Christi State Supported Living Center and the ongoing crisis to both staff and families. Now, we are hearing from the families about how bad it really is.
Just last week, Joe Dees discovered that his half-brother had been diagnosed positive with coronavirus. He and his family were not even contacted by facility managers and now he and his family are wanting answers.
Dees said that he only found out after calling to the facility and asking questions. Officials there at the facility say that they didn’t have his phone number—an account that Dees says is not entirely accurate.
“I actually called and they claim to have had a bad phone number for me,” Dees said. “I just had a teleconference a week ago for my brother’s annual ‘State of Residence’, which I usually do in person.”
Dees said that he made sure they had the right number at that time. But yet a week later he have to call and ask questions just to get officials there to confirm that his half-brother had coronavirus.
“With so much of the virus imbedded in that place, they tell me he is isolated. I half ass believe them,” Mr. Dees said on Sunday. “They have medical staff on site who probably have COVID. I believe the State Health Department should have already done some type of intervention to insure the safety of these people…I have heard of nothing yet.”
The truth is very little has actually been done and unlike the situation at the Denton State Supported Living Center where they local officials advocating for the residents, staff and families—here in Corpus Christi there has been little outward mention of the problem.
In a recent television interview Peter Zanoni, City Manager for the City of Corpus Christi said that officials were monitoring it. County officials said that they have asked for state resources to assist and help look at coronavirus action plans for the facility and allocate resources to the facility to get them some assistance. Staff there at the facility say that they have seen very little in the way of help.
A half-dozen staff arrived late last week from the State Supported Living Center in Richmond to help with the situation and there was little bit more personal protective equipment to dished out among employees. But there still has not been enough for everybody and many employees are reusing things like masks, gowns and show covers. Face shields are even harder to come by.
Employees are also saying that they are so short on staff due to the amount of staff testing positive for coronavirus or showing symptoms of the virus that they are pulling non-medical staff members away from their normal functions to preform direct care duties for residents.
Health officials say that you should stay at home if you show symptoms of having coronavirus. It is also no secret that getting a test for the virus is harder than ever and oftentimes, results are taking days to be returned. So what do you do? If you are an administrator with the Corpus Christi State Living Center, you threaten to fire the employees for not coming to work and you threaten them some more.
“I work for the Corpus Christi State Supported Living Center,” said a message sent to The Southside Light News. “I know you have been following up with us I’m very concerned I have had the COVID-19 since july 4th and there more people that have tested positive today.” This employee, who we were able to verify does work at the facility, says that upper management is wanting documentation.”
Documentation is not always so easy to get when you are quarantined and waiting for your physician or a test.
“I have 3 little ones who I dont want to get it,” the employee said.
Another employee from the Center says that they tested positive July 4th, as well.
“I am barely on my 7th day and my Supervisor has been messaging me,” they said. “Honestly I am concerned about loosing my job. And what I dont understand is why are they asking me and other staff members for our return date when there’s staff members and individuals still coming out positive? THIS NEEDS TO STOP ASAP.”
One of the nursing staff that we spoke with last week admitted to knowing that at least one co-worker in the nursing department was positive for coronavirus and after consulting with management, continued to come to work because staffing was becoming such an issue. And for the staff that remains, while some of them have access to proper PPE, they are being told to reuse it over and over again.
For people like Joe Dees who have family that live at the facility, there is only one thing that can be done—get the residents and staff some help and do it now.
“They tell me he is currently asymptomatic, which I don’t completely believe,” Mr. Dees says. “He’s 74 yrs old. I can only call their health person weekly to check on him.”
“I believe the State Health Department should have already done some type of intervention to insure the safety of these people,” Dees says. “I have heard of nothing yet.”
And unless state officials do something now, doing nothing at all might end up leading to more problems down the road for those who are in control—including elected officials.