Sherri Stoltzfus is administrator of The Citadel Salisbury 160-bed facility in North Carolina that had more than 145 cases of coronavirus. More than 100 of the elderly residents have been sickened, and 20 have died. In sworn statements, six current and former nurses of the facility describe an operation enveloped by panic, chaos and disease.
The Citadel’s managers, according to the nurses’ affidavits, failed for weeks to respond effectively to signs of the emerging pandemic. As the virus spread, managers ordered nurses not to wear masks while failing to provide protective clothing or test the workers on site. When nurses and other employees got sick, they were pressured to come to work anyway, the affidavits say. The nurses say they also witnessed nursing home managers lying to residents and their families about the results of tests.
Those who could work frequently found themselves placed in impossible positions of being forced to treat dozens of elderly and sometimes dangerously ill patients by themselves. As more staff got sick or stayed home last month, one nurse left to handle an entire residence hall by herself threatened to call 911 if her bosses didn’t get her help, her affidavit says.
Moreover, Accordius — which bills itself as a “regional leader in the Southeast for quality, satisfaction and clinical competency in skilled nursing care” — never paid for any of the tests, Stoltzfus confirmed. Instead, the kits were donated by Rowan Novant Hospital and the Rowan County Health Department. As for in-house testing, Stoltzfus said the staff was following an algorithm “put out by the clinical team at corporate” that based testing on a series of symptoms.