TRINITY NURSING HOME DISREGARDED SAFETY AND HEALTH OF PATIENTS AND STAFF ACCORDING TO DHHS,
FAILED TO PROTECT RESIDENTS AND STAFF FROM COVID-19,
NOW DENIES WORKERS’ COMPENSATION CLAIM OF WORKER THAT ACQUIRED COVID-19 IN THE FACILITY AND SUBSEQUENTLY DIED
On December 8, 2020, Tara Pendergrass of Trinity, North Carolina, passed away from COVID-19 related complications. Tara worked as a CNA at Graybrier Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center, where she contracted COVID-19. Graybrier repeatedly demonstrated complete disregard for the health and safety of its residents and staff as documented by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medcaid Services. These instances include, but are not limited to:
1) Multiple COVID-19 positive residents sharing rooms with COVID-19 negative residents; 2) COVID-19 positive residents remaining in the COVID-19 negative unit; 3) COVID-19 negative residents being placed in the COVID-19 positive unit, resulting in the residents acquiring COVID-19;
4) Failure to implement guidelines among staff regarding the use personal protective equipment;
5) Inability to deep clean resident rooms due to housekeeping and staff shortages; 6) As of November 19, 2020, the facility had 2 COVID-19 positive staff members and 1 COVID-19 positive resident. The facility’s failures resulted in 46 staff members and 37
residents testing positive for COVID-19 one week later on November 27, 2020. One day after that, November 28, 2020, 12 new residents became COVID-19 positive.
Since Tara’s passing, attorneys with Lanier Law Group have learned that some 81 residents and 70 employees of Graybrier tested positive for COVID-19 in the weeks leading up to Tara’s death. They have also learned that Graybrier routinely requested that employees continue working after testing positive for COVID-19, including Tara, who on November 29, 2020, was asked to complete a 12-hour shift after testing positive for COVID-19. Tara died 9 days later. Industry protocols dictate that COVID-19 positive staff may continue working, but only with COVID-19 positive patients. Graybrier failed to properly segregate COVID-19 positive patients and permitted positive staff to continue working with NON COVID-19 patients.
On February 3, 2021, Graybrier denied the workers’ compensation claim filed by the surviving family members of Tara Pendergrass, arguing that it was not responsible for her contracting COVID-19 in its facility or the COVID-19 related complications she experienced as a result of the infection, despite its documented failure to follow safety guidelines.
While many Americans stayed home in an effort to protect themselves and their family, Tara continued to work, sacrificing her personal safety for the benefit of Graybrier Nursing Home and its residents. That dedication, coupled with Graybrier’s reckless behavior, resulted in Tara dying at the age of 29. Unfortunately, Tara’s dedication and bravery were not recognized or rewarded as Graybrier denied the workers’ compensation claim asserted by her mother arising out of Tara’s death.