Congress examining long-term care companies about COVID-19 issues

Congress examining long-term care companies about COVID-19 issues

BRADENTON, Fla. Congress is now investigating five of the nation’s largest for-profit nursing home businesses over concerns about how each company has handled the corona virus crisis. One of those companies has a number of aged care facilities in the Tampa Bay Area.

What you need to know

  • Consulate health care among researched companies
  • 32 COVID-19 deaths in Florida occurred in consulate facilities
  • 13 of those deaths related to Bradenton Health Care
  • More coronavirus stories

US Representative James E. Clyburn, chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, initiated the investigation last week. The subcommittee sent letters to Genesis HealthCare, Life Care Centers of America, Ensign Group, SavaSeniorCare and Consulate Health Care, requesting documents and information regarding COVID-19 cases and protocols.

According to his website, Healthcare Consulate has nearly 20 elderly care facilities in the Bay Area. The most recent figures from the Florida Department of Health show that among these 20 facilities, a total of 32 COVID-19 related deaths occurred.

Of these, 13 are affiliated with Bradenton Health Care, one of the company’s facilities in Manatee County.

88-year-old Pat Shulko started rehabilitation at Bradenton Health in late April for what daughter Linda Lay describes as mild pneumonia. Lay said once she got there, Shulko’s health started to deteriorate rapidly.

Then she tested positive for COVID-19 and died within 21 days.

“I spoke to my mom two hours before she died,” Lay explained. “She couldn’t speak. But I asked her if she could close her eyes or blink and she did. I wanted to be there, but it was going so fast.”

Lay said Shulko left a notebook describing what she called unprepared staff and questionable treatment.

“My daughter and I were sitting there crying as we tried to read it because her handwriting would get worse by the day,” said Lay. “And we sat there and just cried my mom going through that.”

We contacted the Healthcare Consulate for this story and received the following statement from spokesperson Jennifer Trapp:

“The coronavirus pandemic has had serious consequences across the country and we regret the loss of life in these unprecedented times. Healthcare providers, including long-term care institutions, are at the forefront of the struggle to deal with this crisis.

At Consulate we continue to work tirelessly to protect our residents and staff from the continued threat of COVID-19. Although the crisis is not yet over, the consulate is a proven leader in its response to this pandemic.

According to CMS and the CDC, the consulate’s COVID-19 cases and the COVID-19-related deaths are significantly lower (more than 50% lower) than the nursing home provider’s average. While we support the rest of the country that even one loss of life is one too many, we continue to deeply appreciate the vigilant efforts of our primary care nurses and caregivers for their commitment and dedication to protecting our patients during this global pandemic.

We look forward to working with the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, and welcome all constructive efforts by policy makers to improve the functioning of our healthcare system and promote positive outcomes for America’s deserving seniors. “