Daughter says father’s nursing home hid COVID outbreak

Margaret Chow was overcome with emotion as she explained how her father, Daniel Chow, passed away unexpectedly on Saturday morning, after running a fever for four days. He was a long-term resident at Chatham Hills Subacute Care Center. She says she knew about the fever, but no one told her there had been an outbreak of coronavirus within the facility. She learned it from the funeral home.

“They sent someone over to, I’m sorry I cannot use the word body, to pick up my father and the funeral director told me that, because of all that has been going on, they had to ask the nursing home whether the nursing home was infected. And the nurse confirmed that the nursing home was infected,” she said.

Learning that after his death, she said she had no way to ensure that he received the proper care once there were cases, or once he himself got sick. It’s something she had asked the nursing home about many times. She and a friend reached out directly to the COO asking for confirmation about COVID, and she says she never heard back but her friend did.

“My father passed away 4/4 early morning, so on 4/1 even as he texted back his reply to my friend, he said there was nothing that he knew of. You cannot lie to people like that. You cannot. Even if you were to admit to people, yes, the facility is infected. At this point there is probably nothing that anyone can do. Yes, you could evacuate the ones not infected, but where to? But at least, if people ask, you have to be honest,” Chow said.

Chow also sent the COO an email saying she observed health care workers entering the facility without being screened, a preventive measure that was mandated by the Department of Health as early as March 14.

There was no response when NJTV News reached out to Chatham Hills and its parent company CareRite.

Over the weekend, Gov. Phil Murphy put a new mandate in place for nursing homes, as Jon Dolan, the president and CEO of the Health Care Association of New Jersey, explains.

“All nursing homes and assisted livings would communicate their COVID positive, their COVID PUI, or persons under investigation, and their actual deaths during the crisis to all employees, meaning our staff, to all residents, and to all family members or persons of authority or responsibility over that resident,” he said.

New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said if agencies don’t self-report, the state will take matters into its own hands.

“If we are not notified by close of business on Monday that these directives are taking place, we will release the names of the long term care facilities with at least one COVID-19 case,” she said.

As of Monday, that’s about 40% of the total 375 facilities in the state. But for the Chow family, it’s too late.

“I am so broken that I don’t think I can be whole again,” Margaret said.

She said she does plan to bring suit against the Chatham Hills facility, but that any amount she wins would be donated to the care of seniors in her father’s name.