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Report: Riverbend allowed several staff members to work while displaying symptoms of COVID-19

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Posted at 4:20 PM, Aug 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-25 09:52:11-04

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Riverbend Post Acute Rehabilitation allowed several staff members to work while displaying symptoms of COVID-19, according to an inspection report.

While initial findings from Wyandotte County health officials show the outbreak at the facility began when a single employee reported to work while sick, the report from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) shows several workers reported symptoms in a log that was intended to track and monitor staff.

The report states, "Based on observation, interview, and record review, the facility failed to protect all residents in the facility by not following acceptable infection control practice recommendations for COVID-19. These failures had the likelihood to expose all residents in the facility to COVID-19 resulting in serious harm or death."

More than 30 residents died at the facility because of the virus.

The report shows Riverbend initiated the employee symptom log on March 13. Abnormal symptoms were reported to the director of nursing (DON), according to the report.

The screening logs were provided to CMS, which lists employees by the initials of their work title (RN1, RN2) and their symptoms. The list includes nursing staff, housekeepers, maintenance workers and physical therapists who reported symptoms that included cough, headache, sore throat and shortness of breath.

During an interview on April 27, the DON told CMS the facility did not have any staff who worked while symptomatic.

However, on several occasions, the report states management failed to follow up on reported signs and symptoms of COVID-19 among these employees and allowed them to work.

The report shows the administrator told CMS 25 employees had tested positive for the virus during an April interview.

In interviews with CMS, several staff members reported they wore the same personal protective equipment while caring for multiple residents, including those who were negative and positive for the virus.

"RN2 reported she did not wear goggles or a face shield, but did wear the same gown and mask for the entire shift and did not change PPE after caring for the COVID-19 positive residents and prior to caring for the COVID-19 negative and asymptomatic residents," the report states.

Staff also reported that residents who were sick were not isolated from residents who were well.

According to the report, "The facility failed to ensure COVID-19 positive residents remained in their rooms and failed to ensure staff and residents work personal protective equipment (PPE) appropriately in an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19."

CMS deemed the facility a "COVID-19 Positive Facility," meaning most all residents have tested positive for the virus.

According to CMS, the administrator indicated during the inspection the amount of residents who died from COVID-19 was likely much higher than reported because many died with symptoms of COVID-19 but were not tested before their death.

At least 12 wrongful death lawsuits have been filed against Riverbend. Last week, a judge ruled the facility was not immune from the litigation.

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