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Everett angered by lack of response from DOH

JERSEY SHORE — Two more patients from ManorCare-Jersey Shore have died from the coronavirus.

That brings the death total of patients from the nursing facility to 14, according to Lycoming County Coroner Charles E. Kiessling Jr.

“I have had 15 COVID-19 deaths from nursing homes that were reported to my office. All have been from ManorCare-Jersey Shore except for one. Seven of these deaths were in the facility, six were at Geisinger Jersey Shore and one at UPMC Susquehanna,” Kiessling said Tuesday.

The nursing home has been hit extremely hard by COVID-19, with a total of 73 patients testing positive, along with 14 staff members, according to Julie Beckert, assistant vice president at HCR ManorCare in Toledo, Ohio.

Several relatives of patients have reached out to express their concerns about the conditions at the nursing home and their inability to get information due to visitation restrictions and HIPAA regulations.

They say they worry that their loved ones are very sick and will die alone.

They have also called the state Department of Health and local legislators including state Rep. Garth Everett, R-Pennsdale, asking for help.

The local legislator said he has written to the Department of Health several times in the past three weeks about the information he is getting from relatives about the number of cases, but has not received answers to his questions.

Everett said he received a brief email response to his concerns on May 12 from Dave Toth, legislative director for the Department of Health, who said, “We have been monitoring the facility. There has been no issues identified. This facility has been following infection control procedures, installed antechambers, are using PPE and have been working with ECRI. If you have further questions, please feel free to reach out to me.”

Tuesday, upon learning of two more deaths at ManorCare, Everett said he again emailed state Health Secretary Rachel Levine and demanded to know why DOH personnel are not in that facility to determine what is going on there.

“Is it your plan to allow the remaining residents there to die also? Have you contact traced the employees who tested positive? What testing is going on there now? I expect a response today,” Everett wrote.

During her daily update which aired on the Pennsylvania Cable Network Tuesday afternoon, Levine was asked about the discrepancy in the number of deaths between the DOH, which reported nine deaths, and Kiessling’s number of 14 deaths at the nursing home. Levine explained that although these people died in ManorCare in Lycoming County, the state uses their home address when they record the deaths.

When questioned about the seriousness of the virus at ManorCare-Jersey Shore and what the state is doing, Levine said, “We have been in very close contact with that facility.”

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