The Southeastern Veterans Center in Spring City, Chester County PA, is the largest long-term care facility in the county, with 292 beds. The residents, and many of the staff members, are veterans who have dedicated their lives to protecting and serving our country. Unfortunately, this facility was also the site of one of the worst outbreaks of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania in the spring of 2020.
Not only did the outbreak cause 42 residents to lose their lives, but the facility also gave unproven “COVID cocktails” to residents that had known and serious health risks. Southeastern Veterans Center was criticized by healthcare officials and lawmakers around the state, and for good reason. If your loved one was affected by the COVID-19 outbreak at Southeastern Veterans Center, then you should contact a skilled COVID-19 nursing home outbreak lawyer as soon as possible, to help prevent this kind of egregious behavior from happening to someone else, and to bring your family justice you deserve.
Southeastern Veterans Center Had No Plan to Deal With COVID-19
Healthcare officials in Pennsylvania, as well as staff at the facility, reported that the administrators at Southeastern Veterans Center had no plans to manage or protect sick patients. Among some of the many failures, they:
- Did not conduct contact tracing for sick individuals
- Did not take steps to protect residents from cross-contamination or infections
- Had no consistent staff screening measures for potential illness
- Failed to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to workers
Nurses who were exposed or interacted with COVID-19 positive patients were at times placed in units with healthy residents later in the same day, and a nurse who tested positive was allowed to come back to work two days after her positive test.
Southeastern Veterans Center Discouraged the Use of PPE
Beyond not providing necessary PPE for employees, staff members reported that they had to “beg” administrators for simple equipment like masks. Other staff members reported that they were told they would be written up if they wore PPE as it “scared the residents”. Staff members reported delivering laundry to residents who were COVID-19 positive without PPE, and then going to visit healthy residents in the same shift.
Hydroxychloroquine Was Part of a COVID “Cocktail” Given to Residents
Worse than their negligence in regards to proper safety protocols, Southeastern Veterans Center administrators decided to give at least 30 residents an experimental course of hydroxychloroquine that nurses say they were told was a “COVID cocktail”. At least 11 of those residents who received the cocktail had not been tested for COVID-19 when the drug was administered.
Hydroxychloroquine is known to cause serious cardiac problems, and the FDA stressed that it should only be administered in settings that could provide “careful heart monitoring”. Yet Southeastern Veterans Center administered hydroxychloroquine to residents who suffered from heart ailments and other medical conditions that are known to raise the risk of life-threatening side effects of the drug.
While it is not yet known if this cocktail caused any of the deaths that occurred, the center was ill-equipped to monitor for heart arrhythmias and other potential side effects of hydroxychloroquine, so should not have even considered its use. The FDA has since revoked its emergency use authorization of hydroxychloroquine and studies have shown that it is not an effective drug to treat COVID-19.
Lawyers Representing Victims of the Southeastern Veterans Center COVID-19 Outbreak
Relatives of residents at Southeastern Veterans Center have told media outlets they were unaware of how widely the virus had spread, or that there were mass deaths occurring in the facility until the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on the unfolding outbreak inside the facility. Data shows that the typical rate of death at Southeastern is less than 2 residents a month, yet in April of 2020, there were 47 deaths.
While outbreaks of deadly diseases in nursing homes are always a possibility, there are instances where the negligence of the staff or administration greatly contribute to the number of fatalities that occur. Southeastern Veterans Center residents served our country honorably and deserved better from the people who were supposed to care for them. If your relative was affected by the COVID-19 outbreak at Southeastern, contact the lawyers at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt today for a free consultation. We can be reached by calling 1-866-869-5318 or by filling out our form online.