NewsCarroll County


A potentially deadly silence

Families await news of infected nursing home residents
Posted at 4:31 PM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-15 20:22:42-04

WESTMINSTER, Md. — His daughter last contacted 74-year-old John Mack by telephone where he lives at Westminster Healthcare Center on Wednesday, and she said she could tell his breathing was labored.

Four days later, she found out he was hospitalized on a ventilator.

“We definitely speak to each other on Sundays, and I didn’t hear from him,” said Andrea Mack. “I called his phone. I called him phone, and then I spoke to a friend I know who worked at the hospital. She said, ‘Well, we were working on your dad on Friday. We thought that you knew, then someone would have contacted you and told you that your dad was in the hospital. No call. No anything.”

Kristy Harrison says her father, 74-year-old Doug Harrison, fell at the same facility a few weeks ago and was running a high temperature.

Nothing could prepare her for the next update when a nurse returned her calls.

“They called me and she was like… I said, ‘How’s my dad doing?’ and she’s like, ‘He’s in isolation,’” said Harrison. “I (said), ‘Why’s he in isolation?’ because he had colitis earlier in the month, and she (said), ‘He’s got the coronavirus. He tested positive earlier in the month.’ I (said), ‘I didn’t know any of that.’”

While these women say neither the nursing home, nor the health department will discuss any outbreak at the center, Terri McIntyre finally got some response.

“You get this a week later---your loved one could be gone by then,” said McIntyre.

The letter confirms at least one person there had become infected with COVID-19, and now she fears for her grandmother, Irene Krac, who she last visited on her 99th birthday at Westminster Healthcare back in early March.

“I have a lot of concerns over hygiene on a good day,” said McIntyre. “I go in there and there’s stuff under my grandmother’s fingernails, and they’re not washing her hands before she eats, and if they’re practicing the same methods that they have in the past, those people aren’t going to have a fighting chance.”

The women say they’ve heard the covid patients have been isolated from others in the facility, but nothing official, which makes it that much more difficult as they suffer through the silence.

“Westminster Healthcare Center has yet to call me back, and I’ve been calling them since Sunday. Monday,” said Mack. “No one has called me back.”

All of the women we spoke with say that they share a common fear, and that’s that their loved ones could pass away, alone, and that they wouldn’t find out about it until well after the fact.

The Communicare Family of Companies released a statement on Wednesday, stating they have decided to perform COVID-19 testing on all residents in the center.

The complete statement can be read below.

In collaboration with the State of Maryland COVID-19 Strike Force, the CommuniCare Family of Companies has decided to perform COVID-19 testing on all residents in the center. This decision is being made with the goal of protecting all Westminster residents and staff, and to expand on the center’s already developed infection control and prevention plan. The tests will be performed immediately.