A nursing home which has seen at least 73 residents die of COVID-19 and more than 400 residents and staff infected has been raided by the FBI late this week after being flagged for rampant health violations, including administering experimental doses of hydroxychloroquine to about half its 435 residents in an attempt to stave off the outbreak, despite not having state health authorities or families' approval to do so.
Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center, located northeast of Pittsburgh, drove headlines last spring into the summer for seeing the single biggest coronavirus outbreak numbers of any facility in the state.
Over three weeks ago Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro launched a criminal investigation related to unsafe “conditions and practices” of the nursing home, namely according to a prior statement, that it failed to meet a “high threshold of certain circumstances when the caretaker of a person fails to properly provide for their health, safety and welfare.”
In other press statements “neglect” of patients has been central to the allegations, including abandoning patients for long periods of time, without access to clean clothes, or simple needs like tissues and enough water to drink.
According to police records, local law enforcement had at some point stopped responding to calls to the facility, given the danger to police of potentially catching the virus.
#BREAKING: The Brighton Twp Police Chief no longer allows his officers to physically respond to calls @ Brighton Rehab and Wellness ever since the outbreak. Officers take calls over the phone. The PD received their highest # of incident calls from that facility. @KDKA pic.twitter.com/d9P2X5qKOl— MEGHAN SCHILLER (@MeghanKDKA) September 3, 2020
Investigators from the Pennsylvania Attorney's general office assisted in Thursday's FBI raid, including at another nearby hard hit care center, the Mt. Lebanon Rehabilitation and Wellness Center outside Pittsburgh.
Essentially all of Brighton's elder residents caught the disease as well as many staff over a few month period, totaling a whopping 447 residents and staff testing positive, according to Pennsylvania Department of Health data. One staff member had died as well in addition to the 73 deceased residents.
In April NBC News wrote that the entirety of the residents and staff were "presumed infected":
The Pennsylvania nursing home where all 750 residents and staffers may be infected with the coronavirus was hit last year with a "below average grade" by state inspectors who warned that lax sanitary conditions could lead to the "spread of infection and diseases," Medicare records revealed.
Even months prior to the coronavirus pandemic, health authorities were investigating the facility over widespread reports that patients were living in filth and being mistreated:
The report [from Sept. 2019] "identified repeated deficiencies related to proper infection control procedures not maintained during dressage change, improper storage of soiled linens and failure to provide appropriate facilities for hand washing which created the potential for cross contamination and the potential spread of infections and diseases."
The facility in reaction to the investigation appeared to point the finger at the failed response of state and federal health officials, however, stating: “We will leave the readers to determine why some politicians seek 'investigations' into people and facilities instead of looking at governmental response to better their directives.”