An employee at Accordius Health in Harrisonburg said Monday the facility she works at is the long-term care facility being investigated by the Virginia Department of Health’s Central Shenandoah Health District for a possible COVID-19 outbreak.
Kanesha Hamilton, a 25-year-old certified nursing assistant, said multiple people are sick at the facility on South Avenue.
“There’s a lot of sick people,” she said, adding both residents and employees are affected. “All of our aides are pretty much sick right now.”
Two other employees, who refused to provide their names in fear of being fired, confirmed Accordius is the nursing home being investigated.
Calls to North Carolina-based Accordius were not returned.
In a press release Saturday, state officials say they collected specimens from symptomatic residents of a city long-term care facility. The specimens were sent to the state lab in Richmond. Several were positive for COVID-19.
The department, which is working to determine a possible source of exposure, hasn’t released the name of the facility.
“When COVID-19 occurs in a setting where there are many older people with underlying health conditions, we are concerned,” said Health Director Dr. Laura Kornegay in a statement Saturday night. “We’ll be working very closely with the facility over the coming days to protect other residents and staff and to provide expert guidance on infection control.”
Canterbury Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center in Henrico County reported that 42 residents have died from the illness.
Hamilton said there was an influx of patients with COVID-19 symptoms last week.
In most cases, the new coronavirus causes mild to moderate symptoms, including cough and fever. The elderly and those with underlying health problems can experience more severe illnesses, including pneumonia.
Those who are 65 and older or have serious medical problems, such as lung and heart disease and diabetes, are urged to self-isolate. Frequent hand-washing and social distancing are recommended to help stop the spread of the virus.
Hamilton said she wasn’t provided proper, or enough, personal protective equipment for the situation.
She said she had to use the same gown she used on a confirmed COVID-19 patient with a patient who didn’t test positive.
“All of this could have been prevented,” said Hamilton, who has been a CNA for seven years. “We told them over and over and over that we didn’t feel comfortable working there. I’ve never been in the dark so much. It was like we’re figuring it out as we go.”
Hamilton said she last worked two days ago and has become ill. She said she was tested for the coronavirus Sunday night at Sentara RMH Medical Center.
“It feels like my toddler is constantly laying on my chest,” she said, adding that she hasn’t seen her children in a week.
The possible outbreak comes as cases in the state and the Central Shenandoah Health District continue to rise.
The district covers the counties of Rockingham, Augusta, Rockbridge, Bath and Highland, as well as the cities of Harrisonburg, Lexington, Buena Vista, Staunton and Waynesboro.
Monday’s tally on the Virginia Department of Health website reported 5,747, an increase from 5,274 cases reported Sunday.
The data shows 87 cases in Harrisonburg and 49 in Rockingham County.
The statewide death count increased from 141 on Sunday to 149 on Monday.
On Friday, the VDH reported the first COVID-19-related fatality in the Central Shenandoah Health District. VDH declined to say where the death was.