SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) - With the no visitation policy for nursing homes and assisted living facilities amid the coronavirus outbreak families are concerned about their loved ones.
The federal mandate aims to protect residents from the virus.
However, a North Charleston woman, Lillie McKnight, is more worried about the normal day-to-day care of her father at a nursing home in Summerville.
"I'm feeling that my dad is in greater danger from the neglect in the nursing home at this point than he is with the coronavirus," McKnight said.
She says her father has been a resident at Hallmark Healthcare Center on Midland Park Road in Summerville for about 8 months. She says prior to the no visitation policy she was there everyday to check on him and help with his care.
Her father has dementia and she is concerned that he's not receiving proper care. She says she's witnessed it during her visits.
"I would help out and getting him ready for bed and making sure that he was clean and dry every evening and now that I'm not able to go there to help out with that," McKnight said.
According to Medicare.gov, the facility’s overall rating is below average and their staffing rating is above.
Live 5 News requested state department of health inspection and investigation reports for this nursing home over the last three years. We received eight reports and all of them had scores of zero percent out of 100 percent.
Violations noted in those reports included improper staffing, improper record keeping, a delay in giving medications to residents and failure to fulfill orders by physicians.
"I've made reports to the ombudsman's office, I've made reports to DHEC I just feel like this is a population of people who have no voice, it's not just about my dad it's about other people too," McKnight said. "I've seen things with my own eyes when I've been there, which is what kept me going everyday just to make sure my dad was taken care of even if i had to do it myself."
After speaking with state representative Wendell Gilliard about these concerns, he sent a letter to the director of the state department of health asking that they require all nursing homes and senior living facilities to allow video chatting so families can see their loved ones.
McKnight says the facility allowed her to chat with her dad through video starting last week and she appreciates that he made the request because she knows there are others who can't. However, she still believes there should more oversight at these facilities.
"I just feel like we live in a society that does not value our elderly people," McKnight said. "I dealt with similar issues with my mom prior to her death and whenever I reached out for help no one wanted to help because she was old and I'm feeling the same thing now with my dad."
Officials with Hallmark Healthcare Center released the following statement:
"As a result of the rapidly growing concerns surrounding the new coronavirus, we have had to take unprecedented steps to protect the elderly and frail population we serve from increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 and other infectious illnesses. At the direction of federal, state and local health agencies, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, Hallmark has restricted all social visitation and non-essential personnel visits. This restriction, while difficult for both families and residents, is absolutely essential to preventing the spread of COVID-19 in our facility.
We are making extra efforts to contact family members each day with health updates and information about their loved ones. Our facility is also providing residents with alternative methods for face-to-face communication with family, such as FaceTime and video conferencing. We understand what a difficult time this is for everyone and are grateful for the patience and understanding of all involved as we work together to protect the health and safety of all our residents."