I-TEAM: 'God’s grace mercy and favor' Good news for nursing home after mass COVID-19 testing

(Source: WRDW)
(Source: WRDW)(WRDW)
Published: May. 29, 2020 at 5:08 PM EDT
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Friday, May 29, 2020

News 12 at 6 o'clock/NBC at 7

AIKEN, SC. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Test results are back from the statewide testing at South Carolina nursing homes ordered as part of

And there is good news to share.

They have not released the results from phase one or two, but one local owner isn't waiting to share the good news with patients and anxious family members.

The doors at the place at Pepper Hill Nursing and Rehabilitation are still closed to visitors. Signs warn workers to stop before entering the facility and masks are required. Everyone who comes through doors gets a temperature check and must answer a series of questions.

The door leading to the 74 patients was closed while we sat down with the owner and administrator in a front room to the side. This is the new normal inside most nursing homes nationwide.

“It’s been a little bit scary, let me say that. I need to be honest, it has been a little bit scary because day in and out you are wondering what will come," Camella Burton said.

Burton and Melissa Oden operate the Aiken facility, and they've done much more than just wonder over the last nine days.

“We prayed, we prayed, and we prayed again.”

South Carolina mandated testing all patients and workers in nursing homes across the state at the beginning of May. Pepper Hill fell under phase two and all 91 residents and 116 workers were tested here last week.

“You are always nervous and concerned because we don’t know what COVID-19, even today, we don’t know what to expect," Burton said.

They received the last two results on Wednesday.

“What went through my mind is 'thank you, Lord.' We are so grateful that all of our staff and residents we have no COVID cases," Burton said.

A miracle to say the least -- a miracle that bears repeating. None of the more than 200 people in the facility tested positive.

A little more than a month ago, a part-time worker tested positive.

“Soon as a test comes back positive, it can impact the entire facility," Burton said.

76 patients and 34 staff members are positive for the virus. Eleven have died.

“It’s heartbreaking because you know some of those people some of them have worked for you," Burton said.

Camella has been fighting to keep Pepper Hill virus-free for three long months now. Infection control was a priority before COVID-19. Now it’s their best defense against the disease.

“From the start of your day to the end your day, you are doing everything you can to keep residents safe," she said.

This new normal is hard work coupled with the unknown - it all feels frightening. But they find strength through the community and the families they serve each and every day.

“I think overall this pandemic is teaching us the importance of how much we need one another," Burton said. “God’s grace mercy and favor."

And through the importance of prayer.

We sent a request to DHEC for phase one test results. We have not yet received that information. It’s been nearly a month since DHEC updated it’s COVID-19 nursing home report for the public.

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