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'A bombshell' | Son of 93-year-old man raises concerns about Atrium's plan to relocate COVID-19 patients to nursing home

Atrium Health tells WCNC Charlotte they've relocated people who have coronavirus from other nursing facilities to Huntersville Oaks.

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — There are major concerns about a plan to move patients with coronavirus into a local nursing home.

Atrium Health tells WCNC Charlotte they've relocated people who have the virus from other nursing facilities to Huntersville Oaks. 

It comes just days after county leaders released a list of local nursing homes with reported outbreaks, which included Huntersville Oaks. One man contacted WCNC Charlotte worried about the safety of his 93-year-old father who lives there. 

RELATED: These 7 Mecklenburg County nursing homes have coronavirus outbreaks

The concerned son is asking why patients with the virus would be put in a nursing home of all places, where some of the most vulnerable people live, including his elderly father.

“My father, in particular, is the highest of the high risk,” Tom Williams said.

Williams says his father turns 94 next month and has underlying health conditions. He wants to know why the patients with coronavirus are being relocated to Huntersville Oaks.

“Why wouldn't this concentration of COVID patients been done in a hospital?” Williams asked.

Credit: WCNC

Atrium Health, which owns the facility, says it’s part of a strategic plan. It’s meant to keep COVID 19 patients coming from other nursing homes under one roof, according to Atrium.   

However, Williams says he was only notified after Mecklenburg County released a list of nursing homes with reported outbreaks on Friday night. Huntersville Oaks was on the list, but Atrium says the patients contracted the virus before being moved there.

“It was kind of a bombshell dropped on us,” said Williams. “It’s disconcerting. It's the uncertainty and I think a lot of it was brought on by lack of transparency.”

Atrium Health released the following statement about the strategic plan:

 “Given the pandemic state of emergency, it’s not uncommon for facilities to have patients who have or have had COVID-19. In this particular instance, the facility identified by the county represents a strategic decision on the part of Atrium Health to house skilled nursing facility patients who have the virus under one roof. We have a separate wing of the building dedicated to caring for these patients, which keeps them isolated from the rest of the population to avoid spread. In this area, most rooms are private rooms, with individual bath and shower facilities. This wing also has a separate air handling system.”

Atrium also says the steps they are taking are recommended by other organizations, including the American Healthcare Association.  However, Williams says he remains concerned given how much spread has already happened at local nursing homes.

“(It) just tells you that the preventative measures are insufficient for keeping the virus out, so once it's there how do you prevent its spread inside the facility,” said Williams.

Williams says he’s now working with Huntersville Oaks on other options, including possibly bringing his father home, but he says that presents other challenges.

“If we had the ability to care for him, he'd be here now,” said Williams.

Atrium Health also says they have taken additional measures to help prevent potential spread, including the following:

  • Restricting all visitors
  • Establishing separate entrances
  • Screening anyone who enters the facility – including our teammates prior to starting their shifts – at the door, including temperature checks
  • Patients and residents are screened at least every shift
  • Teammates are wearing masks throughout their shifts
  • Limiting teammates from working in multiple areas of the building, to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Suspended activities and communal dining

Atrium says they are following guidelines from the CDC and the WHO.


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