Medical Justice: Gavel and stethoscope

Nursing Home Whistleblower Dies of Coronavirus Infection

A whistleblower nurse who accused a Massachusetts nursing home of covering up a resident’s coronavirus infections and taking inadequate safety measures to protect patients and staff has died from a COVID-19 infection.

Maria Krier, 59, was a nurse at Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley in Littletown, Massachusetts. She told Boston’s WCVB 5 that she quit her job in early April over the company’s handling of a coronavirus outbreak that was brewing within the facility.

Ms. Krier, who died of a COVID-19 infection in a hospital late Friday, April 10, spoke to WCVB reporters previously. She said her supervisors at the skilled nursing facility and rehabilitation center kept it quiet after one resident became sickened by the coronavirus.

“They discovered this particular woman had it. They never told anybody,” Ms. Krier told WCVB. “We kept waiting for the bomb to drop. Like, when are you going to tell us we’re exposed to it?” She claimed the company’s alleged inaction put lives at risk.

“I love doing what I do but I can’t work for incompetent people anymore,” she told WCVB. She said there was a lack of care for patients exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms and no initiative to protect other residents and nursing home staff from becoming infected.

According to WCVB, officials said that public health authorities weren’t getting any cooperation from Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley either.

When health officials started working to identify people who had close contact with the person who tested positive, they “were stonewalled by officials at Life Care Centers,” a source told WCVB.

Coronavirus can spread like wildfire through nursing homes, health care centers, and anywhere else where there is a population of elderly people and people in frail health. That apparently was the case at the Life Care Center. As of April 10, 75 of the company’s 204 workers were out sick, with 14 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 and 17 presumptive positive. Other tests were pending.

On March 27, the nursing home had 109 residents. Ninety-eight residents have been tested and 67 are confirmed positive for coronavirus. Ten residents have died of their infections. According to the nursing home’s website, 13 of the infected residents have been admitted to the hospital and 41 remain on site.

The nursing home said that the National Guard completed testing of all residents of the facility and wants to have all staff members tested as well.

Nationwide, more than 3,600 deaths have been linked to coronavirus outbreaks in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, most of which have occurred in the last two weeks. However, the true toll is likely much higher because some residents die without ever being tested for coronavirus.

Alyssa Baskam, who works in Beasley Allen’s Atlanta office, represents individuals who have been injured or the families of those who have died as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect, or other inpatient facility abuse or neglect. She is staying informed about how COVID-19 is impacting nursing homes nationwide. It is a most challenging and unusual situation for patients and caregivers, with most facilities locked down and visitors prohibited.

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