12 News Investigates: Nurse claims she contracted COVID-19 at Ridgeland retirement home

12 News Investigates

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – A nurse who used to work at a Ridgeland retirement community, The Orchard, said she contracted COVID-19 from a woman who lives there. The retirement home said that is not true.

Administrators at The Orchard said a woman had a stroke and was rushed to the hospital. According to officials, the hospital then sent the woman to a nursing home in Pearl, where an outbreak of the coronavirus occurred.

According to The Orchard, the woman later fell and was sent back to the hospital. While at the hospital, the woman tested positive for COVID-19.

Officials said the woman stayed in the hospital another ten days before she was able to return to The Orchard.

Sandra Strain, the community relations director for the facility said, “When it was time for her to leave and come back home, which The Orchard is her home, we brought her right back in. Let me say this: our priority is to keep our residents and staff safe.”

Latonya Perry, who used to work at the nursing home as part-time registered nurse, disagreed with the claims. She stated no one ever officially told her someone living in The Orchard had the virus.

Perry found out someone tested positive through a conversation at the nursing station.

“She was telling me about a CNA that didn’t want to go into the resident’s room, and we also got a new admit that day too and that made two people in the room. And I said, ‘Yeah.’ She went in the room and fed the new resident, and she said well she did it with an attitude, because she doesn’t want to be in there because Bed B has tested positive for COVID. And I said, ‘Okay, well when were you going to tell me?'”

Perry ended up testing positive for COVID-19. She claims she contracted the virus from the resident in December.

“That’s how I put it together that I got it from the nursing home because I worked with her on the 17th for three days. Then I was sick and went to the doctor. I wasn’t feeling well on the 17th and got treated for sinus stuff, and it wasn’t working. I only got sicker.”

Perry said she was placed in the emergency room on December 22. Three of her family members also tested positive for the virus, including her husband and two children.

“I know it started from her. We don’t go anywhere. We don’t do anything. We have to go to the grocery store. We wear a mask. We try to stay away from people. You shop and you try to stay six feet away. I knew if I got it, I would be sick. Because I already be sick with my sinuses,” said Perry.

The Orchard said it takes all precautions and traced the infection, claiming the patient did not pass the virus. The facility added it took an additional step of quarantining the woman after she got back from the hospital.

Strain said, “We do everything that the CDC expects for us to do. Not only is everyone in a mask, we do temperatures, and we have them wear gloves. We socially distance everybody. So we’ve done absolutely everything we possibly can.”

As for Perry, she said she is no longer working at the retirement community. She said she was not fired, and she did not quit. She said she was just not added to the schedule for February.

Below is information for the Mississippi Department of Health:

  • There is no way to determine from an investigation that a staff member was infected as a result of exposure to an infected resident.
  • All staff must interact with residents with the appropriate level of PPE regardless of known infection.
  • There is no requirement that new admissions to a facility receive a negative test—the recommendation is that they should quarantine in a separate room and be managed with appropriate infection control on the chance they may be infected.
  • We follow CDC guidelines for positive employees working, and it is highly discouraged except under unique situations.

Long-term care facilities and outbreaks can he found here: https://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/_static/14,22471,420,971.html#ltcTable

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