The situation at the home also has drawn attention of state Sen. Donzella James, D-Atlanta, who wrote Gov. Brian Kemp a letter Thursday urging him to consider closing the home. “Despite the best efforts of their amazing staff, this home has turned into a petri dish ravaging those most vulnerable,” she wrote.
The first report of a resident testing positive for coronavirus came March 26, Arbor said. When it was notified, Arbor said it “immediately put the community in quarantine and executed our outbreak plan to deliver care, meals, and engagement to all residents in their apartments.”
Arbor also immediately called in the Fulton County Board of Health, which tested all the residents and worked with the facility and the state Department of Health to try to contain the outbreak. The company said it also made sure the facility had enough masks, gowns and other protective equipment and hired a professional cleaning company to sanitize the building. The state also sent the Georgia National Guard in to clean, too.
In addition, Arbor said it supported its staff with pay increases, additional paid sick leave and payment of child care costs.
Yet more residents later were found to be infected. More than 30 of the home’s 80 staff members have also tested positive, though results have not been reported yet for all employees.
The 15 deaths occurred between March 29 and April 12.
Arbor Terrace at Cascade is one of 156 long-term care facilities in Georgia with confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the governor’s office.
Dr. S. Elizabeth Ford, interim director of the Fulton Board of Health, whose office ordered testing of the entire Arbor facility, said that outbreaks in long-term care settings can be difficult to contain. “Everybody’s being extremely aggressive and trying to manage this,” she said.
But some families who have lost loved ones wonder if all the right precautions were taken.
Tilafayea Walker said her aunt, Nancy Finney, was among the 15 Arbor residents who died.
“Right now I have several emotions – one is anger,” Walker said. She said the facility hasn’t responded to her calls since her aunt’s death.
Walker said family members visited until the virus prompted long-term care homes across the state to stop allowing visitors in. She doesn’t know what was done in the days before Finney went to the hospital, where she died.
“We’re a big family — someone was there to visit her pretty much every day,” she said. “To know she spent her last moments by herself, that is heartbreaking.”