UNIONTOWN, Pa. — Nursing home health care workers who recently tested positive for COVID-19 believe they were exposed to the virus while at work.
“It’s hard. It’s really hard knowing that you’re one person, and you can’t give everything you have to each and every one of them,” said Ashli Grimm.
Grimm is on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19.
“You’re scared not only for yourself but for your residents,” Grimm said.
Grimm is a nurse at Bella Healthcare Center, a nursing home in Fayette County.
“I had been working the COVID unit. The red zone — the last few times I was there,” Grimm said. “The last time I was there, there was over 55 cases, and the residents are really sick. They are really sick.”
Grimm is at home fighting her own battle. She said she tested positive for COVID-19 and believes she was exposed at work.
“Because of me being around positive people, and the atmosphere that I was around and, sometimes, not having the correct equipment probably contributed to me contracting and becoming positive,” Grimm said.
Not only is she fighting to recover, but she is also monitoring her family’s health.
“My daughter has been coughing, complaining of body pains. My husband’s been coughing and not feeling well,” Grimm said.
“I have indeed tested positive,” said Shienna Ross.
Ross is a certified nursing assistant at Bella Healthcare Center.
“I’m having a lot of congestion. I can’t smell. I can’t taste. I wake up with a throbbing headache that doesn’t go away,” Ross said.
She believes she was also exposed to COVID-19 while on the job.
“Right now, we have about maybe 85 residents, in which 10 of them are negative. The rest of them are actually positive,” Ross said. “It’s very disheartening. I think we’ve cried more than I can count in my lifetime.”
WPXI contacted the nursing home for answers. A representative confirms residents and employees have tested positive for COVID-19 but did not state how many.
They sent us the following statement:
“As we experience a second wave in the country, especially in the Northeast, we recently had residents test positive for COVID-19 at our Bella Healthcare Center. While unfortunate, given the current level of community spread, it is not unique and we are taking numerous steps to stop the spread of this virus. Our facility has adequate PPE and our dedicated staff continues to wear proper PPE. The facility conducts testing twice weekly and follows protocols for staff and residents as required by CDC or local health guidance. Dealing with a global pandemic like COVID is uncharted territory for any healthcare provider.”
But the employees we spoke with said the facility is understaffed and wasn’t prepared for the spike in cases.
“We asked management to help us. They don’t want to help us,” Ross said.
“I feel like they weren’t prepared. I think they got away with being a COVID-free facility for so long,” Grimm said.