A Tragic Story
The Post and Courier had a great article about the careless disregard at Heartland Health and Rehabilitation Care Center. This story is just one example of what is going on in South Carolina nursing homes. The nursing home’s heartless decisions put profits over people. The article tells the tragic story of Aaron Lorick who was a caregiver at the facility.
Lorick witnessed one of South Carolina’s largest and deadliest nursing home outbreaks. The 44-year-old’s job was as a certified nursing assistant. The job requires close contact with the patients he bathed, changed and hand fed. He knew at least two infected by the virus. Yet, he said, nobody at Heartland had bothered to inform the staff.
Lorick warned that the Hanahan nursing home was putting staff and residents in danger. Poor planning and bad decisions left residents and staff at the mercy of the deadly virus. Lorick wanted to help them so he contacted reporters. He feared for his coworkers at Heartland. His own wife and toddler got sick with the virus.
“They didn’t tell us anything,” he explained. “They told us we didn’t have an outbreak at our facility.”
Careless Disregard for Human Life
Inadequate PPE, poor training, short-staffing, and lack of testing aggravated the nursing home’s refusal to tell staff and residents the truth. The spread came from the staff. Caregivers, including Lorick, cared for those with — and without — COVID-19, going back and forth, back and forth. Because of the lack of testing, neither staff nor residents knew who was infected.
State health officials didn’t require nursing homes to test their residents and staff — even though they house the very people most at risk from the virus. A nationwide lack of materials caused critical delays. It became common to see coworkers break down crying, exhaustion and anger lining their faces. Housekeepers cleaned soiled laundry not knowing who had COVID and who didn’t. Many staff, especially nursing assistants who provide the most hands-on care, were close to the residents falling ill and dying.
Health officials found over 60 residents and staff had tested positive with dozens dying including Aaron Lorick.
And there’s been almost no way for families of nursing home residents in South Carolina to see for themselves if situations have improved.
In-person visits have been banned since March. Gov. Henry McMaster instructed DHEC to issue guidelines for limited visitation. But there’s still no telling when doors can actually reopen. All we know is that more than 5000 residents and staff in South Carolina nursing homes have been infected with thousands dying.