Family expresses concern for loved one at Burlington Health & Rehab

Published: Mar. 22, 2020 at 6:00 PM EDT
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Chittenden County has the highest number of residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Vermont. More than half of those 22 cases are elderly residents at the Burlington Health & Rehabilitation Center, where one of the state's first of two victims died on Thursday.

Vermont health officials are providing additional resources and guidance for the facility, but some families remain concerned for their loved ones there.

"I honestly do not think they're taking it seriously enough, not when they just had this many more cases," said Lisa Way of St. Albans.

Her father, 77-year-old Bernard Parrott, is one of the now 12 cases of COVID-19 patients at Burlington Health & Rehab.

State health officials say they are deeply concerned about those numbers and have spoken with the CDC.

Way says her father is having trouble understanding his diagnosis due to his dementia.

"He has no idea why he's feeling so crappy," she said.

Way says she found out about her dad's diagnosis on Saturday morning and wonders how effectively the facility is handling the outbreak.

"My father, for three weeks they've been telling him that he's had an awful cough and not feeling good, and they just seem to overlook it every time," she said.

The Vermont Department of Health says Burlington Health & Rehab has been following CDC guidance on treatment and isolation of COVID-19 patients since last Monday. A spokesperson for the Genesis-owned facility says since the first case was identified, they upped their safety protocols, including quarantining patients and residents to their rooms, removing employees in close contact with positive individuals, making sure employees wear masks and gowns, and taking temperatures and symptoms twice a day.

Fourteen staff members are also in quarantine -- none have tested positive. As many as 15 nurses will arrive next week to provide extra support.

Burlington's Mayor Miro Weinberger says he is deeply concerned about the number of cases at that facility.

In an email, he says the center is resourced with supplies and supplemental staff to protect those that have not yet contracted the virus.

He says rehab patients who have not tested positive are on a different floor from the outbreak and are being removed from the center and he wants to be sure the virus doesn't spread from the nursing home to other vulnerable facilities.