New dispatch call released as Canterbury Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center death toll grows to 45

Coronavirus

(WRIC) — The deadly coronavirus outbreak continues to attack the Canterbury Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Henrico, with the death toll reaching 45.

“Breathing problem. Priority one response.”

A newly released dispatch call has become all too familiar to paramedics rushing to Canterbury amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Senator Tim Kaine says the spike in emergency calls at Canterbury is a concern.

“I think the lesson from Canterbury is if it could happen there it could happen at any senior living facility and so it probably calls to mind a broader set of issues about things like salaries that are paid to folks who work there and a need for them to have multiple jobs and does that elevate risk factors,” Kaine said.

The death toll at the center has now surpassed the total from Life Care Center of Kirkland, a Seattle-area nursing home tied to at least 43 deaths.

The western Henrico nursing home has experienced one of the worst clusters of the coronavirus in the country, now with at least 45 deaths linked to COVID-19 and more than 100 individuals who have tested positive for the virus at the center. Thirty-five health care workers at the facility have tested positive for the virus, according to Canterbury.

The virus began to spread around the facility in early March.

Dr. Jim Wright, Canterbury Medical Director, believes the worst of COVID-19 is now behind the facility.

“I think the atmosphere now is one of hope. Staffing levels are up, there’s a lot of activity going on in the facility. We have cleaning crews that are disinfecting everything, almost around the clock. The residents see the signs that we are nearing the end of the crisis.”

Dr. Danny Avula, Health Director for Richmond & Henrico Districts says he knew the chance of survival was low for residents who tested positive for COVID-19. They had to decide if sick patients should be hospitalized or not.

“It really spurred on the question: does it make sense for elderly residents with lots of underlying health conditions, who likely will not make it through COVID-19 to come here for us, to try to resuscitate them, for us to put them on a ventilator and then ultimately to see them pass away?” Avula asked.

Dr. Danny Avula

Dr. Avula says more than half of the residents diagnosed with COVID-19 died at the facility, never making it to the hospital.

The ongoing health crisis has left many family members of those residing at the facility feeling helpless, wondering if their relative is the next victim.

Bernice Stafford-Turner began sending letters to public officials asking for answers. Her brother, Fred Lee Stafford, is 68-years-old. He moved into the nursing home a little more than two years ago. “He was hit by a car when he was three and was beset by significant developmental problems ever since.”

Recently, her brother was moved into Canterbury as the family thought it would be the safest option for him. He is living in the second-floor unit. Stafford-Turner is having a hard time knowing she can’t rescue her sibling.

“I’m very concerned about his emotional state while he’s there because this facility appears to be overwhelmed,” said Bernice Stafford-Turner who has a family member staying at Canterbury. “The nurses won’t have time to just sit down and talk to him.”

Canterbury Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center is located at 1776 Cambridge Dr., Richmond, VA 23238. The facility is a member of Marquis Health Services, headquartered in Brick Township, NJ.

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