CNN reported disturbing evidence that nursing home managers were intentionally misleading and blatantly lying to caregivers about the risks of cornavirus. Employee accounts of more than 500 complaints filed with the federal government’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) show ignorance and indifference. A CNN review of these records, along with reports made to other government officials and interviews with employees, show that long-term care workers across the country feel their own lives are at risk as they work on the frontlines in facilities that have become hotbeds for Covid-19 — with more than 30,000 deaths nationwide.
In the worst examples, employees reported that managers hid positive cases from staff, meaning caregivers had no way of knowing for sure whether they were treating a patient with the disease. They expressed concerns over a lack of preparation, training and supplies to prevent them from contracting and spreading the virus. Employees have also reported staff being forced to work while symptomatic for Covid-19.
Supervisors told workers that a flu shot will protect you from coronavirus. No need to tell authorities, a worker reported being told about the Covid-19 related deaths of colleagues at a Missouri nursing home. Keep working, an employee who was vomiting and running a temperature at an Ohio long-term care facility was instructed, according to another worker complaint.
Worker complaints allege dangerous conditions in which staff members are deprived of basic protective gear and have been told to use coffee filters as masks and wear garbage bags or rain ponchos as medical gowns. The employees say they have been kept in the dark about outbreaks in their own facilities as they care for elderly and frail residents who are particularly susceptible to the disease.