Riverview nursing home management accused of downplaying coronavirus outbreak that killed 7

COVID-19 outbreak reported at Rivergate Terrace

Seven residents at a nursing home in Riverview have died from the coronavirus (COVID-19), and management is accused of downplaying the outbreak and putting residents and workers in danger.
Seven residents at a nursing home in Riverview have died from the coronavirus (COVID-19), and management is accused of downplaying the outbreak and putting residents and workers in danger.

RIVERVIEW, Mich. – Seven residents at a nursing home in Riverview have died from the coronavirus (COVID-19), and management is accused of downplaying the outbreak and putting residents and workers in danger.

The outbreak happened at the Rivergate Terrace near the intersection of Pennsylvania Road and Fort Street in Riverview.

“My mother was the most kind, loving, selfless person you will ever meet, and now we are planning her funeral and it will be closed casket,” Kathy McGuire said.

McGuire said she fully expected her 87-year-old mother, Sara, to rehab from a fall at Rivergate Terrace and then return home.

But when her mother got to the nursing home at the end of February, she immediately developed what the staff called bronchitis, a cough and a fever, according to McGuire.

She asked if the coronavirus had gotten into the facility.

“(I asked), ‘Do you have the COVID-19 virus?’" McGuire said. “(They said), ‘If we did, I would tell you.’”

Insiders told Local 4 the virus is spreading like wildfire at the facilities. They accuse management of not telling staff members, patients and families early enough and believe the facility had been downplaying the outbreak, putting residents and workers in danger.

The facility’s executive director said since March 23, seven residents have died from the coronavirus, 21 have tested positive, three have returned after being isolated and 15 staff members have tested positive.

Insiders told Local 4 they believe the number of residents dying is much higher, along with the number of people who have tested positive.

“It is on my radar,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said. “We are investigating right now, publicly.”

Multiple staff members told Local 4 the information they’re receiving from management doesn’t add up with what they’re seeing on a daily basis.

McGuire also feels she was kept in the dark, and now her mother is gone.

“This has devastated my entire family,” she said. “She was our life."

Nursing home statement

Here is a statement from Sujata Chaddha, interim executive director at Riverview Terrace:

"Twenty-one Rivergate Terrace residents have tested positive for COVID-19 as of April 9, along with 15 associates.

"HIPAA privacy guidelines prevent the sharing of personal patient information, but we are able to share the following details:

  • 22 Rivergate Terrace residents were tested for COVID-19 after being transferred to local hospitals. 21 of those tests came back positive. One came back negative.
  • We received notification of the first positive test on March 25.
  • As we received notification of each positive test, any resident who was known to have contact with the resident who tested positive was immediately isolated.
  • Three of the 21 residents who tested positive have returned to our facility and are under the isolated care of our facility associates. We are following the guidance of our medical director and local hospitals and will continue to care for these residents in-house unless a resident’s condition progresses to a level of care that requires a transfer back to the hospital.
  • Seven of the residents who remained at the hospital after testing positive have passed away. The other residents are continuing their recovery in the hospital.
  • One resident test is pending.
  • 17 associates have been tested for COVID-19. 15 of those tests came back positive; the other two tests were negative. The associates who tested positive are recovering at home and will not return to work until they have met specific guidelines from the state health department and CDC about returning to work after COVID-19.

"We have been and will continue to follow all CMS, CDC and state and local health department guidelines concerning COVID-19. Our associates are being diligent on practicing proper hand hygiene and the use of personal protective equipment, which is recurring education they normally receive, beginning with their orientation at our facility. Every associate is also screened when they arrive for work and when they leave, including checking temperature, to ensure no additional sickness is brought into our building. Anyone with a fever over 100 is sent home and asked to contact their personal physician.

"These guidelines also place restrictions on the entrance of visitors, family members and vendors. Signage with information on COVID-19 and details about these restrictions is posted on our doors. Our entrance is also equipped with an infection prevention station that includes personal protection supplies.

“Our heartfelt condolences go out to the friends and loved ones of the patients who have passed away. The safety and well-being of our residents will remain our highest priority as we continue to work in partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Wayne County Health Department and follow the guidance they provide.”

About the Authors:

Shawn Ley is an Emmy-Award winning reporter. In more than 20 years covering stories in television news, Shawn’s reporting has taken him from war-torn eastern Europe, to reporting from an F-16 fighter jet and now to the fast and furious breaking news of Detroit.

Derick is a Senior Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.