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Rep. Jim Clyburn’s coronavirus committee wants documents related to Windermere

Published: Jun. 25, 2020 at 11:55 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn and a Congressional subcommittee on the coronavirus are seeking documents and more from the nursing home company who owns Windermere Health and Rehabilitation Center in Augusta.

As the nation continues to wrestle with the effects of the coronavirus, no other system has been hurt worse than nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

[MORE: Read the latest nursing home COVID-19 inspection reports from Georgia.]

Windermere was ravaged by the illness as dozens of patients and several employees eventually came down with the virus. Several more perished as a result. Augusta-Richmond County firefighters and CAVE also conducted an inspection of the facility.

Jeannie Jackson, 67, passed away at Windermere less than 48 hours after the hospital called her son. (Source: WRDW)
Jeannie Jackson, 67, passed away at Windermere less than 48 hours after the hospital called her son. (Source: WRDW)(WRDW)
Barbara Roye died on Easter Sunday at Windermere, according to her family. (Source: Roye Family)
Barbara Roye died on Easter Sunday at Windermere, according to her family. (Source: Roye Family)(WRDW)

Clyburn, who is the chairman of the select committee on the coronavirus crisis, sent a 14-page letter to SavaSeniorCare CEO Jerry Roles asking for information regarding the deaths, conditions inside the facilities, and steps taken to address the pandemic.

Health experts briefed the subcommittee earlier this month, stating many facilities don’t have adequate PPE, testing, or infection control measures even though they received money from the CARES Act.

The committee’s letter says outbreaks at SavaSeniorCare facilities have been “severe” and specifically mentioned the Windermere cases.

“The Windermere Health and Rehabilitation Center in Augusta, Georgia had a significant outbreak of the virus, with approximately 76 of its residents and 42 staff members contracting the disease and 11 deaths,” the letter said.

Windermere received more than $500,000 in federal CARES Act money to help in the fight against the virus.

Data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services show Windermere and many other facilities had big problems before COVID-19. We found Windermere ranks below average in health inspections, staffing, and overall care. There’s even an alert stating they have been cited for abuse.

Still, the letter looks to address allegations that several senior care and nursing home companies nationwide have failed to address the coronavirus through an adequate PPE supply, appropriate staff levels, properly paying employees at facilities, and infection control systems.

As a result, the committee is looking to receive information on those efforts by Roles’ company.

Windermere released a statement on the letter, saying they received it on Saturday and that they are likely going to cooperate. However, officials say they are weighing their options to determine their next steps.

“Our client centers continue to be diligent with their efforts to prevent the risk of the spread of the Coronavirus or COVID-19 to our residents and staff,” the statement said. “The Centers are following the infection control guidelines set out by the Centers for Disease Control, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and State and local health departments. We appreciate all of the efforts of our client center staff as they work day in and day out to care for those that we have the privilege to serve.”

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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