Families shocked by number of COVID-19 cases at Monroeville Rehab

MONROEVILLE, Pa. — Families with loved ones at Monroeville Rehabilitation and Wellness Center contacted 11 Investigates after seeing the investigation exposing a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility.

More than 50 residents and staff at Monroeville Rehab have tested positive for COVID-19 over the past month, and eight residents have died.

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Many relatives were stunned to see the number of cases at the nursing home and shocked that they learned about it on TV, instead of from the facility.

"I was in total shock and dismay that there was that many numbers that were not reported in the nursing home where my parents are," said Deborah Spriggs, whose mother and father are both residents at Monroeville Rehab.

Dad tested positive

After seeing the 11 Investigates report, Spriggs called Monroeville Rehab to check on her parents and was shocked yet again.

“I found out my dad tested positive on the 24th of July,” she said.

Nobody notified her.

“I’m extremely scared. If you wouldn’t have done your story, my dad could have passed away, and I would never have known,” she said

The facility did send several letters to family members over the past month about COVID-19 cases developing at the facility.  First, they were told about one case, then seven cases. But then, instead of including actual numbers, the facility characterized the growing number of cases as just “several more residents developed COVID.”

“I was led to believe in the letters they sent the past few weeks that there were just a few cases,” Spriggs said. “They are not transparent. It’s almost like they are covering up and trying to save face.”

Reported zero cases to state

Nursing homes are required to report their number of COVID-19 cases daily to the state. The Pennsylvania Department of Health then puts out a weekly report on the total number of COVID-19 cases at long-term care facilities around the state.

But a check of that report last week showed Monroeville Rehab had reported zero COVID-19 cases to the state. It wasn’t until 11 Investigates started asking questions that the facility updated those numbers this week to show the jump in COVID-19 cases.

As of today, Monroeville Rehab reported it has 55 cases — 10 still “active” and 45 “resolved,” including eight resident deaths. 

A public relations company hired by the facility said in a statement, “There has not been a new diagnosis of COVID-19 at the facility in nearly two weeks.”  The statement also reported facility officials “remain cautiously optimistic that we have turned a corner.”

The facility blamed the delay in reporting its COVID-19 numbers to the state on a change in administrators and stated the issue has since been corrected.

Spriggs, who has not seen her parents in five months due to the state’s ban on visitors to nursing homes, said she continues to worry, but hopes the facility will be more transparent moving forward.

“I think they need to be a lot clearer because people’s lives are at stake,” she said.

Brighton Rehab under criminal investigation

Monroeville Rehab is owned by Comprehensive Healthcare Management Services, which owns several other nursing homes in western Pennsylvania, including Brighton Rehab in Beaver County.

Brighton Rehab had the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the state — with more than 400 cases and 73 deaths, and it was also criticized for a lack of transparency.

Today, the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office confirmed to Channel 11 that Brighton Rehab is the subject of a “criminal investigation” into nursing home neglect during the pandemic.

"We're deeply troubled by what we're finding there, and we believe the public has other information — particularly families who have been affiliated in one form or another with Brighton — with information that could be helpful to our investigation," Attorney General Josh Shapiro said.

Shapiro is asking anyone with information regarding neglect at Brighton or other Pennsylvania nursing home facilities to contact his office by emailing Neglect-COVID@AttorneyGeneral.gov.