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'I feel very unsafe', workers at nursing facilities concerned over health and safety of staff and patients amid COVID-19

Nursing homes are getting hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. One facility has an unusual request for staff.

PHOENIX, Ariz —

Nursing homes are getting hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Maricopa County Department of Public Health reports more than 100 long-term care facilities now have at least one positive case of the virus.

Workers in some of these facilities are also worried conditions are not safe for them or those in their care that are among the most vulnerable for COVID-19. 

“I feel very unsafe,” A CNA at Haven of Phoenix told 12 News, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of losing her job. “My concern going forward is that our residents are going to be severely affected.”

Haven of Phoenix is a nursing home. Workers there tell 12 News they’re being told to put their N-95 mask on in a paper bag on a clothesline, and reuse it for 5 days.  

Credit: Anonymous Source

“We have to put our mask inside of the paper bag when we’re done with the shift and it’s the same paper bag for the five days,” the CNA said. 

Another woman who spoke anonymously with 12 News said she lost her job at Haven of Phoenix this week after bringing up concerns over safety and health of workers and staff. 

“It’s a matter of time before it spreads and I don’t feel like they’re trying to get ahead of this,” the former employee said. 

Workers at Haven of Phoenix say there are positive cases of COVID-19 among residents and staff. 

Haven Health, the parent company for Haven of Phoenix said in a written statement to 12 News they have, “more than a sufficient supply of personal protective equipment.” Adding the company, “continues to meet or exceed the current recommendations and requirements.”

“We were told that if we got new masks every day we wouldn’t have any more masks to give out,” the CNA said. 

“The common theme is everything is back-ordered,” the former employee said. 

The staffers fear they are not alone, as nursing homes across the state are facing some of the most severe cases. 

Maricopa County data shows that nearly two-thirds of all virus deaths have been related to long-term care facilities. 

“Those patients are the ones that we are wearing facemasks for. So why are we not testing them? Especially when you know their mortality rate is higher,” the former employee said. 

12 News examined federal data finding 50 facilities in Arizona have been cited in the last three years by Medicare for lacking an infection prevention and control program. That list includes other Haven Health facilities in the state.

The database shows all of the 50 facilities corrected the issue, but employees and families are still wanting answers. 

“When we are all sick it’s going to go back to affecting our residents. Who’s going to take care of them when we’re sick?”

The state and county have not released data specific to individual facilities and COVID-19. 

If you or your loved one has a concern about a facility, email 12 News at connect@12news.com.

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