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Two PA Veterans Nursing Home Officials Suspended As Investigation Into Coronavirus Deaths Grows

Two PA Veterans Nursing Home Officials Suspended As Investigation Into Coronavirus Deaths Grows

They fought in and survived conflicts ranging from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Now, too many veterans and their spouses residing at an East Vincent Township facility are succumbing to COVID-19. 

Two top Pennsylvania officials at the state-run Southeastern Veterans’ Center (SVC) in Chester County were suspended June 2 as an investigation into the 37 Coronavirus deaths at the facility continues. Relatives of the residents say they were unaware of how badly the virus was affecting the SVC or that deaths had occurred. In contrast, the five other veterans’ homes operated by the state appear to have successfully kept the virus away from their facilities.

Rohan Blackwood, 47, who was in charge of the SVC, and Deborah Mullane, the nursing director, were put on indefinite suspension. 

Overall Mismanagement 

Perhaps it is no anomaly that SVC experienced so many COVID -19 deaths and illnesses compared to the other veterans’ homes, as it already had a record of mismanagement. 

Prior to the pandemic, there were reports sent by employees and residents’ family members to state senator Katie Muth, who represents the district. The reports state the SVC was understaffed, leading to resident neglect. Escapes from the dementia unit of the facility were apparently common. 

Muth spoke to federal and state officials in May, requesting the removal of SVA managers. In April, 47 residents died at SVA, including 27 with Covid-19. 

Muth later said many of the facility’s issues stemmed from poor management. She said the SVC needs to replace all of its management. Muth adds that some individuals were “bullied” into enabling the management’s autocratic style. As for the Coronavirus, Muth says management did not provide “consistent or adequate” direction as to establishing a true mitigation protocol. 

Typical Death Rates

SVC has the capacity for 287 residents. According to Muth, the average death rate at the facility was two people per month before the pandemic. At approximately 24 deaths annually, that number is not unusual for a facility dealing with a large number of elderly and chronically residents. 

Of course, that all changed in April, as Coronavirus began ravaging the SVA. Even though 20 of the residents dying that month did not appear to have Covid-19, that is far beyond the average two monthly deaths. The other 27 Coronavirus fatalities make the death rate even more appalling.

Pennsylvania Nursing Homes and Coronavirus

Long-term care facilities account for nearly 70 percent of Covid-19 deaths in Pennsylvania. It was 80 percent for Chester County. 

As of late May, the SVA was by far the hardest hit of any of the 75 such facilities in Chester County or the 560 such facilities statewide. At least 106 residents tested positive for Coronavirus, along with 13 employee cases. 

Many private nursing homes had cases and fatality rates just somewhat lower than SVA. However, these facilities are not operated by the state. Overall, Pennsylvania holds the dubious distinction of having among the highest fatality rates in the country for COVID-19 and nursing home residents. 

Did a Loved One Die of Coronavirus in a Nursing Home?

As noted above, coronavirus outbreaks in our nursing homes are largely preventable. If a loved one died in a nursing home or assisted living facility because of coronavirus or coronavirus complications, we can help. For more information, visit our nursing home neglect page. Ready to see if you have a case? Contact us online, by email [hidden email] or by phone 833.201.1555. All inquiries are protected by the attorney – client privilege. Cases handled nationwide.

[In addition to coronavirus COVID-19 cases, we consider other nursing home neglect cases including those involving serious bodily injury, sexual assault, death and bedsores (pressure ulcers). If we can’t help, someone in our network probably can. We have lawyers licensed in many states including Florida.]


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