'Our families are dying’: Relatives of residents at Washington facility share COVID-19 concerns

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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‘Our families are dying’: Relatives of Washington facility patients share concerns over COVID-19

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

At 3:30 a.m. Thursday, Pat Herrick got a call that her mother, a longtime resident of the Life Care Center in Kirkland, had died.

The facility, about 20 miles from downtown Seattle, is known as the epicenter of the new coronavirus outbreak. Eight of the 11 coronavirus deaths confirmed through Thursday afternoon had links to the facility.

"The nurse that called me was exceptional," Pat Herrick said. "I think this is such a bigger picture. I think it's tragic that they don't have the support here to do work that's needed to be done in a good way."

Around 10 a.m. Thursday, Herrick received another call from Life Care staff.

Her mother, Elaine Herrick, had a good temperature, she was told. She was fine. Staff would call daily with updates.

“I said, ‘That’s (expletive),’” Pat Herrick said. “My mother died at 3:30 this morning.”

Pat Herrick and others gathered reporters outside the Kirkland facility Thursday afternoon. They pleaded for help. Many staff at Life Care are beloved. But they’re overwhelmed and the reassurances that patients were safe in quarantine were false, families said.

“I want Mike Pence in that facility,” Kevin Connolly said. “I want Dow Constantine. Any of them who have elderly parents, I want their parents in that facility.

"If it’s safe enough for my father-in-law, it’s safe enough for their parents as well.”

Mike Weatherill identified his mother, Louise Weatherill, as one of those at Life Care who died from the new coronavirus. He shared a picture of her from 1979 and pleaded for more help there.

Colleen Mallory, talked about her mother, who has dementia. She was told her mother was fine and she seemed OK during a visit, but because of Pat Herrick’s case, there is doubt about the information families are being given.

“Mr. Pence, please come and visit us,” Mallory said. “Inside.”

The names of those mentioned in the Thursday news briefing have not been confirmed by the King County medical examiner or the state department of health.

At the time of a 2 p.m. briefing, 11 people were confirmed dead statewide from the coronavirus: 10 in King County and one in Snohomish County. There were 51 confirmed cases in King County, 18 confirmed cases in Snohomish County and one in Grant County. Those numbers are expected to rise Friday.

Connolly said he was told his father-in-law wouldn’t get a COVID-19 test for seven to 10 business days.

At the rate the COVID-19 is killing people at Life Care, Connolly fears his father-in-law will be dead by the end of the week.

“Our families are dying,” he said. “We don’t know what to do. Our calls for help aren’t working.”

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