Insiders say Belle Reve's coronavirus patients did have symptoms

Milford. Four workers at Belle Reve Senior Living Center in Milford contacted the Courier to dispute a recent story about conditions at the nursing home. Training, cleaning, staff, and protective gear are all insufficient, they said.

13 May 2020 | 01:58

Four people contacted The Pike County Courier to take issue with the paper's April 22 story titled "13 of 14 Belle Reve dementia patients, all asymptomatic, have tested positive for COVID-19."

"Nothing in the article about Belle Reve nursing home is true," said a worker at the nursing home who, like others quoted for this story, did not want to be identified. "Nothing is being done right there. The director of the dementia unit...knew she didn't feel well and went around hugging everyone. She hugged her friend...who was almost like her sidekick and who had been out sick....Nothing is being done to help these residents, as stated in the April 22 piece in The Courier....The training isn't what it should be. New hires are put on a computer and that's it, basically."

A second worker said, "I remember no hands on training, and there's a few good workers who can help you. But if they're not working when you're working, there's no one to guide you, even though I was told someone would help me learn procedures. The residents weren't asymptomatic. This simply isn't true. They actually had symptoms including fevers and dry coughs, symptoms definitely related to the virus. At least four or five have died for sure, as when I signed in, I would see the notes reflecting the status of the facility. Those on the dementia unit were symptomatic. All patients had elevated temps. To enter the unit, we had to gown up to go in, wearing a mask and gloves. I have found another job and won't go back because of the outbreak there. When I spoke to another temp worker, that worker told me the dementia unit director hugged patients after her good friend, who also works there, came down with the virus. There was no Lysol for sanitizing surfaces to kill the virus. There was only small sanitizer hand wipes."

A third worker said, "There were no cleaning supplies. After the residents finished eating, I cleaned the tables with soap and hot water because that's all there was. And I had to get the soap from the sink in the dementia unit. There was nothing for sanitizing surfaces. My heart just sank when I knew that the dementia residents were symptomatic, but the facility claimed they were asymptomatic. This bothered me very much because the residents were obviously red flags for the disease, and Belle Reve did nothing. Furthermore, by going there, I was exposing my family to possible infection. Workers are not tested. Tests when you return from having the virus or being sick weren't mandatory. Workers are told to see their doctors. I got tested on my own. They left it up to me."

A fourth worker said, "They just give gloves and masks, that's it. No training for the virus. Hand sanitizer was kept in a drawer, and bleach was only to be found in the housekeeper's closet. The resident-to-staff ratio was sad. Many times I was alone on the first floor while there were 60 residents between the first and second floors, so it wasn't really adequately staffed. If I'm the only one on the first floor and I had to go to the second floor to assist someone, the first floor was left basically left unattended. If you lived through the treatment Belle Reve gave, you were lucky because it was not patient centered. Belle Reve workers are paid $10.50 an hour. Temp workers are paid $12.00 an hour."

The Courier contacted Griechen Vekiener, the corporate marketing representative for Belle Reve Senior Living Center. She did not return calls from the paper by press time.