HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Another employee has tested positive for coronavirus at Tut Fann State Veterans Home in Huntsville this week.
We've received a number of anonymous complaints from an employee about the facility's procedures during the pandemic. So, our Sydney Stallworth spoke with officials to hear what they have to say about the claims.
We met with Bob Horton, Assistant Commissioner for Outreach and Engagement with Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs. He says, “Last Friday, we had a report that 3 of the residents had tested positive for the virus. Last Friday, we had eight employees who reported positive for the virus. And since Friday, we’ve had one additional employee test positive.”
Tut Fann State Veterans Home now has a total of nine employees and three residents who’ve tested positive for COVID-19.
We gave Bob Horton of the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs a chance to respond to the complaints we've received at WZDX.
One claim? That employees have to reuse masks for up to a week at a time.
Horton tells our reporter, “They are issued PPE on a daily basis.I cannot speak for any individual employee who may be reusing a mask. But, we do have adequate supplies of the PPE items at the facilities.”
Another claim by an anonymous employee says, “So many staff members are sick or have left, that temporary workers have had to be hired”. Bob Horton says it's true that they are having staffing issues, and the pandemic has brought challenges. He adds, “There is an issue with the shortage of staff, however, we’re filling the shortages by augmenting staff with outside resources.”
We received a complaint about a lack of hazard pay. Horton says that is a topic for individual healthcare providers.
Lastly, some claims read “the COVID-19 area in the building is not secure, and different people have to work it.”
We asked Bob Horton to address this. He tells us, “We have assigned staff who work one-on-one with those residents. Those staff members are restricted to the living area where those residents reside.The facility is secure. We have designated entry points to each of the areas in the home."
Horton adds, “We do have multiple staff members delivering care. But, it may not be the same person over a 24-hour shift.”
We’re told they’ll continue to keep a close eye for any new cases at Tut Fann and across the state. Horton says, “We’ve tested over 600 residents and 1,000 employees and we’re going to continue with the universal testing of all employees and residents every 2 weeks.”
Horton tells our reporter, t if employees have any concerns, they should contact their immediate supervisors, or they can contact the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs in Montgomery. All claims can be processed anonymously.