ATHENS, Ga. - Athens-Clarke County commissioners want to know why the deaths of 10 people at an Athens nursing home from coronavirus were not reported.
The residents lived at PruittHealth Grandview, which is a small facility in Athens. They all tested positive for COVID-19.
Tuesday night, officials expressed frustration on why the information was not given to them.
"I wanted to express my extreme frustration with the authorities tracking the coronavirus," said Commissioner Russell Edwards. "The state authorities tracking the coronavirus in our community."
Edwards says he found out about COVID-19 deaths at an Athens nursing home on the news instead of from the Department of Public Health.
“I am extremely frustrated that it would take a whistleblower talking to an Atlanta TV station for us in Athens to get information about these 10 fatalities at an Athens nursing home,” Edwards said. I can’t yet wrap my head around why this information was withheld from us.”
Edwards said he's at a loss for why there was no communication.
"[and] why we have to turn on the nightly news and count on a whistleblower to find out how many of our elderly constituents had died because of the coronavirus," he said.
“I want to get honest, truthful information as soon as it becomes available so that I can do the best job possible for my constituents in keeping them safe,” Edwards said.
PruittHealth Grandview reported its first coronavirus case on March 17 and moved to an alert code red. That means the nursing homes will operate with what they call “enhanced infection control protocol” and will restrict staff to essential personnel only. On Wednesday, PruittHealth classified seven of its other locations as code red.
Athens mayor Kelly Girtz expects better communication from a state agency.
“The Department of Public Health owes it not only in Athens but in Macon and Valdosta and Atlanta and everywhere to give us full information so that we can understand how these processes work,” Girtz said.
As of noon on Wednesday, the DPH reports nine deaths in Clarke County. Deaths are reported in the county where the person has their home address, not where a hospital or nursing home is located.
Late Wednesday afternoon, FOX 5 received a statement from PruittHealth confirming the deaths of 10 patients at PruittHealth Grandview in Athens who tested presumptive positive for COVID-19. The company could not confirm the actual causes of death.
The most recent report from the Georgia Department of Public Health shows 78 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Athens-Clarke County, with nine deaths.
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PruittHealth released the following statement Thursday:
“We are saddened to share that 10 patients of PruittHealth – Grandview who previously tested presumptive positive for COVID-19 have passed away in the past few weeks. We cannot confirm the cause of death for any of these individuals and encourage you to contact the medical examiner or the Department of Public Health for this information. As always, our first priority is communication with the patients’ families and our caregivers.
“PruittHealth - Grandview continues to operate at an Alert Code Red status and has been strictly following enhanced infection control protocols, including increasing cleaning frequency, postponing communal activities, ceasing visitation, screening staff and patients daily, restricting staff to only essential personnel, and ceasing new admissions.
“We ask for your prayers for the patients’ loved ones during this difficult time, and out of respect for them and the patients' privacy, we cannot share any more details at this time.
“We will continue to monitor the issue and its effects on our community as we follow the latest public health guidance. We ask any employee, patient, or family member with questions to contact our Emergency Operations Center at 855-742-5983. For updates and more information on our disease protocols, please visit PruittHealth.com.”
PruittHealth also released a list of facilities Thursday afternoon which have also declared an "Alert Code Red." They are:
- Georgia War Veterans Home in Milledgeville, Ga.
- North Carolina State Veterans Home – Salisbury in Salisbury, N.C.
- PruittHealth – Ashburn in Ashburn, Ga.
- PruittHealth – Austell in Austell, Ga.
- PruittHealth – Greenville in Greenville, Ga.
- PruittHealth – Macon in Macon, Ga.
- PruittHealth – Toccoa in Toccoa, Ga.
Best prevention measures:
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least twenty seconds.
- If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
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