Problems at Brighton Rehab didn’t start with coronavirus, Trib investigation finds

Fears abound

In reporting the story, reporters found many fearful about speaking out about the facility.

Miller, a friendly man with a white beard, and his sister, Sandra Duke, of Florida, have kept in touch with Trib reporters, hoping that their actions, despite his fear of retaliation, might bring change.

During one visit, as Miller talked with a reporter through an open sliding-glass door, he was in mid-conversation when, while he was on video, an employee appeared. She announced that “this interview is over” and slammed the door before wheeling Miller away.

In a phone call a few minutes later, Miller told the Trib that “they’re freaking out.” He was told that talking to the media could get staffers fired.

Miller and others say they don’t blame individual workers for problems at Brighton and that many workers seem to be doing the best they can.

“There’s some bad people here. And there’s some good people here — some people that really care here,” Miller said.

Industry experts said it’s increasingly difficult to find workers for nursing home positions, particularly in light of the pandemic. To fill its gaps, Brighton has turned to recruiting traveling nurses and aides from other states.

Matthew Yarnell, president of Service Employees International Union Healthcare PA, which represents about 300 of more than 400 workers at Brighton, said, “There’s definitely a staffing crisis all across the commonwealth, and I think that’s going to get worse.”

“Now you have the impact of massive loss of life of residents, staff very sick, people trying to figure out if they even want to do the work anymore and a desperate need for caregivers,” he said. “We have a recipe for real disaster … that is not going to go away overnight.”

Though she agrees change will not come overnight, the AARP’s Ryan said she hopes the horrors at Brighton will be a call to action to policymakers and regulators to spur meaningful reform.

“I’m hopeful because we now see a devastating trail of death that can’t be ignored,” she said. “Can we fix it? Yes. The question is, when can we start?”


Jamie Martines and Natasha Lindstrom are Tribune-Review staff writers. You can contact Jamie at 724-850-2867, jmartines@triblive.com or via Twitter @Jamie_Martines. You can contact Natasha at 412-380-8514, nlindstrom@triblive.com or via Twitter @NewsNatasha.

 

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Report a complaint

Options for reporting issues at nursing homes include:

• Pennsylvania Department of Health: Call 800-254-5164, email c-ncomplai@pa.gov or use the online complaint form on the department’s website. Complaints can be kept anonymous.

• State Attorney General’s Office: To report neglect or possible criminal allegations, email neglect-COVID@attorneygeneral.gov or call 717-787-3391 and ask for the Medicaid Fraud Control Section.

• Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program: Call 717-783-8975 or email LTC-ombudsman@pa.gov.

For emergencies involving immediate danger, call 911 or 877-72-432584 (877-PA-HEALTH).