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Family looking for answers as nursing home resident battles COVID-19

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — As local nursing homes continue to be hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, one patient’s family is raising concerns about being kept in the dark about the situation.

As of Wednesday, Summit Commons Rehabilitation and Health Center in Providence had between 95 and 99 cases, according to the R.I. Department of Health.

COVID-19 Tracking: Maps, Charts & Interactive Data »

Karen Martinez says her 74-year-old father-in-law has been living at the facility for a little over year, and now she’s trying to find out how long ago he contracted the virus.

He can’t get out of bed and can barely talk on the phone, according to Martinez.

“He’s on oxygen, he can’t breathe,” she said. “Yesterday or the day before, his O2s were at 83 or 84%.

“He’s a diabetic, he has high blood pressure, he has dementia, so he’s at a high risk,” she added.

Martinez said last week, her husband received two phone calls that caused concern.

“He gets a phone call asking what nationality [his father] was, and then the day after that, they called him and asked him what funeral home he has,” she recalled.

Fearing the worst, she reached out to her father-in-law but couldn’t get through, so she kept calling.

“They connected me to the director nurse’s voicemail,” she said. “I left them another voicemail with my name, my number, my husband’s name, his number.”

Martinez said it wasn’t until Target 12 reached out to Summit Commons that they finally got through.

“That’s when I contacted you guys, and then all of a sudden, we get a phone call from the director of nurses,” Martinez said.

However, the family is still searching for answers.

“We don’t know when he was diagnosed positive,” Martinez said. “We don’t know how long he’s had it. We don’t know really anything, except that he’s on oxygen and he’s COVID-19-positive.”

“I don’t know if they’re being truthfully honest with us, because the director of nurses is saying one thing, the nurses on the floor are saying something else,” she continued.

In response, Summit Commons spokesman Timothy Brown released the following statement:

“Throughout this crisis, we have gone to great lengths to keep residents and their families informed about what is happening in their nursing homes. We are doing this because we are committed to transparency, and because it is our residents’ home and they deserve access to this information. Our centers have sent weekly email updates and held weekly ‘Town Hall’ conference call or Zoom meetings, all to keep families informed on their loved ones and their centers.

“Personalized calls are always made and available to share any resident-specific medical information and our center documents the information shared with the family. Summit Commons also documents and notifies family via phone of any changes in condition. We are confident that this took place.”

Martinez said her family is praying for her father-in-law.

“He has six grandchildren. He has three great-grandchildren. He’s all by himself,” she said, adding that she spoke out in hopes of helping others find answers.

“I just hope that my story will get other families involved,” she said.

Coronavirus: Coverage and Resources

What’s Open in RI & Mass. | Latest Headlines | En Español: 12 Informa | COVID-19 Tracking: Maps, Charts, Interactive Data | Projection Models | Support Groups | Senior Shopping Hours | CDC Resources | RI Health Department | MA Health Department

RI Coronavirus Hotline: (401) 222-8022 | Work-Related Questions: (401) 462-2020 | Mental Health Assistance: (401) 414-5465

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