On February 9th, 2021, the Arizona Republic published a report on an investigation into a Prescott Nursing Home, Granite Creek Health & Rehabilitation Center, after they forced several staff members to work despite testing positive for COVID-19 in June of 2020. Approximately 50 residents were infected with the virus, while 15 died as a result. Poor leadership, delayed tests, lack of infection protocols, sick workers, staff shortages, and falsified data contributed to the crisis.
Recently, Kathy Smith, widow of Donnie Smith, tells the story of her husband’s death, one of the residents infected at Granite Creek. Kathy and her family are currently suing Granite Creek for wrongful death and are represented by the legal team at Jensen Phelan Law Firm. The following information summarizes the outbreak that occurred at Granite Creek and recounts the story of a mourning family in an attempt to depict the experiences many others faced during this tragedy.
Granite Creek violated CDC guidelines and did not follow doctor’s orders when they allowed infected and potentially infected employees to care for residents—two significant breaches in infection control protocols that led to the outbreak in their facility. Granite Creek’s management instructed workers to remain at work despite feeling ill and being told otherwise by physicians. Knowing staff were sick, they neglected to hire more staff. They even tampered with employee screening logs.
It is no accident that all of these factors allowed the virus to thrive in the facility. Nursing homes have a duty to ensure the safety of their residents, and Granite Creek failed in that duty.
The negligence of Granite Creek devastated a 54-year-long marriage. The life of an innocent husband, father, grandfather, and friend was cut short. In an emotional interview with the Arizona Republic, Kathy Smith talked about the life of her husband, their children, and their experience with Granite Creek.
After suffering a broken hip, Donnie Smith and his family decided that it would be best for him to receive care at Granite Creek. When the COVID-19 pandemic started, Kathy mentioned in the interview that her children were nervous about bringing their father home because they didn’t want their mother to be infected. So, she stayed alone in her home and, in the meantime, kept receiving robocalls stating that residents and staff at Granite Creek were extremely sick. Then, Kathy knew she wanted to get him out. She later received a call saying that Donnie had a high fever and would be tested for COVID-19 before he was released. Kathy said:
“Still till this day, they have never let me know what that test proved.”
When he came home, he had around a 102-degree fever, and his oxygen levels were below 90. Five days later, Donnie passed away. In the final seconds of the interview, Kathy states:
“It’ll get better for us. You know, time heals. But the way he died will never heal. We can let him go, but we can’t forget how he died and why.”
Our loved ones rely on nursing homes to care for them and fulfill their needs. Too often, that trust is broken, and our vulnerable family members are severely injured or killed at the hands of others. These actions and inactions by Granite Creek are unacceptable, and they must be held accountable for the lives that have been displaced. If your elder family member’s rights have been infringed upon in a nursing home during COVID-19, Jensen Phelan Law Firm P.C. is on call to help.
Those who have lost an elder relative and suspect nursing home abuse or neglect might have caused the harm should seek legal assistance from Jensen Phelan Law Firm immediately. With over 39 years of experience litigating these types of cases, we know what it takes to support and protect you and your family.