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Families want answers after loved ones die from coronavirus in Metro Detroit nursing homes

Local 4 Defenders look into nursing home concerns

DETROIT – Cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) are spreading through nursing homes and long-term care facilities across Metro Detroit.

Families with loved ones in nursing homes have reached out to the Local 4 Defenders. They worry and wonder about the care they’re getting.

"My biggest fear was that she would contract it,” Anthony Messina said about his sister, Mary.

Messina is mourning the loss of his sister. He said she came down with COVID-19 inside the Macomb County nursing home where she was living.

UPDATE -- May 5, 2020: Michigan coronavirus cases up to 44,397; Death toll now at 4,179

“I always knew Mary was always a fighter,” Messina said. “It's pretty hard to fight something when you’re in a bed.”

“I haven’t got anything, except a dead sister," said Kathryn Maples.

Maples lost her 65-year-old sister, Sharon. She has a lot of questions for her sister’s Wayne County nursing home, including how she could have gotten COVID-19.

“That’s my question,” said Maples. “The nurses were supposed to be tested, temperature wise, cough and everything. Evidently, they wasn’t tested because the only person was allowed to go in there was the nurse and the doctor.”

Maples said she didn't learn her sister had coronavirus until after she died.

”You didn’t send me no paperwork, nothing telling me, ‘Well, this is what happened,’” Maples said.

Steven Angeleri’s mother is in the hospital with COVID-19. She was transferred from a Macomb County nursing home. He too has questions for her nursing home and the spread of COVID-19.

“I said to them every time I called, ‘Do you have any cases or sickness in your nursing home there, patients ill?' ‘No, everybody is fine, they’re all locked down, everybody’s OK,’”, Angeleri said.

The state now requires nursing homes and long term care facilities report current cases of COVID-19. With Wayne County nursing homes a hotspot, state and county teams are focused there.

“They have been up front, cooperative and wanting our assistance,” Carol Austerberry, a Wayne County health officer, told the Local 4 Defenders.

Nursing home owners tell the Local 4 Defenders they need more tests and supplies. The unions representing workers say having enough PPE has been a problem

The intervention now gives little solace to these families in mourning.

“I feel in my heart there is a chance my sister could have gotten better,” Messina said.

Some of the families we spoke to say they're talking to attorneys and considering legal action.

The Local 4 Defenders have learned Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order grants some immunity to health care facilities from liability for taking necessary steps to protect Michiganders during an emergency, which could impact the ability to sue.

The governor’s office says it reinforces an existing law.

You can read more about Whitmer’s orders through the links below.


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