State announces new action at Brighton Rehab following call for federal investigation

BEAVER COUNTY, Pa. — The state now says it will hire a new temporary manager to be on-site at Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center in Beaver County to try and control the COVID-19 outbreak there. It’s believed more than 70 residents have now died there from the coronavirus.

“This is the number one nursing home in the state for fatalities related to COVID-19. Number one,″ U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb said during an interview with 11 Investigates’ Angie Moreschi.

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The state’s action comes after multiple 11 Investigates stories about the problems at Brighton and sharp criticism from Lamb, as Brighton is part of his district.

Lamb said both the facility and state have failed, and it’s time to treat the situation with the urgency it deserves as residents continue to die.

“The response we’ve seen so far from Brighton itself, from this so-called temporary manager from the state, they’re just not treating it with the urgency that’s required,” Lamb said. “I mean people are still passing away every day."

Lamb sent a letter to the head of the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services calling for a federal investigation. Just this week Brighton was cited for an “immediate jeopardy,” violation that “could kill or seriously injure” residents.

“What I couldn’t believe is if they couldn’t understand after 60 people have passed away [now believed to be more than 70], that there was no room for error; that they have to have a zero tolerance policy toward this type of thing, then it is obvious, they need to go,” Lamb said.

In response to a question from 11 Investigates at Friday’s daily briefing, Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine addressed Lamb’s criticism directly and announced the state would be taking new action at Brighton.

“We have spoken with the congressman and understand his concerns,” Levine said. "We are going to be placing a state chosen, state-funded manager at that facility presently.”

Families hope this will finally be the beginning of a change at Brighton that will make a difference for their loved ones.

Brighton Rehab also responded to a request for comment about Lamb’s concerns. A public relations company sent a statement saying Brighton shares the sense of urgency to get COVID-19 under control at their facility and welcomes help from additional PPE to training.

Now, they will also get a new manager.