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Patients' families, staff pursue legal action against Suwannee Health and Rehabilitation Center

Posted at 6:35 PM, May 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-14 18:38:50-04

SUWANNEE COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL) — A Suwannee nursing home is in the hot seat and attorneys are pursuing legal action after hearing allegations of neglect against staff and patients.

Family members with loved ones at Suwannee Health and Rehabilitation reached out to attorneys with Morgan & Morgan once they saw the number of positive COVID-19 cases rise.

Then, staff members came forward saying no one inside the facility was properly protected.

Attorneys say what they heard was enough to get a lawsuit going.

To date, 29 residents and four staff members at Suwannee Health and Rehabilitation Center have COVID-19. Eighteen people living there died from the disease.

"We are going to ensure that the families that had mothers and fathers die get the justice they deserve," said Matt Morgan of Morgan & Morgan.

Now, the law firm plans to file a lawsuit against the Suwannee nursing home and another in Volusia County.

"Many families don't know what happened," said Alexander Clem, another lawyer with Morgan & Morgan. "They're relying on us to get them answers."

The attorneys say several family members with relatives in the nursing home and people working there paint a tragic picture of how the outbreak spread.

"When you start playing around with temperature readings and really fraudulently altering the actual vitals statistics of an elderly nursing home resident, that's a real issue," said Clem.

Clem says people working inside the facility claim they were told to lie about temperature readings, even working to reduce fevers with Tylenol and ice packs while management disregarded their health concerns.

"They were also told 'Don't get tested because we don't know if you have it,'" Clem said, "'And we need you to be at the facility because we're already understaffed.'"

Now, the case is in a pre-suit screening period.

"It's a 75 day period where you tell a nursing facility, 'Here's what we think you did wrong during the COVID-19 outbreak,'" said Clem.

Suwannee Health and Rehabilitation has not responded to our request for comment.