GALLATIN, Tenn. (WTVF) — In Sumner County, the number of COVID-19 cases has jumped significantly in the last two days, going from 36 to 58.
At least two of those are at a Gallatin nursing home, but NewsChannel 5 Investigates has learned COVID-19 is likely more widespread there than that.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates has obtained documents that show Sumner County emergency officials are also concerned. Outside the Gallatin Center for Rehabilitation and Healing, it doesn't look like anything out of the ordinary is going on inside the long term care nursing home. But the Tennessee Department of Health now confirms they are investigating what they call "a cluster" of respiratory illness among residents and staff there.
It was Thursday the facility revealed in a post on Facebook that there had been positive tests here.
The facility confirmed in a statement to NewsChannel 5 Investigates that one resident had tested positive. An earlier Facebook post by the center shared that an employee had also tested positive.
But a document obtained by NewsChannel 5 Investigates raises new concerns. It is a Sumner County log of medical calls including calls to the Gallatin Center this week. And there are notations that indicate any calls to this nursing home should be treated as screening positive for coronavirus until further notice. This was at the direction of Sam Clark, the assistant chief of Sumner County's EMS and the notes state this is not public knowledge.
Yet in a conference call where families with loved ones at the center could listen in, nursing home administrators repeatedly promised they're being completely transparent and repeatedly assured families they have nothing to worry about.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates listened in on the call and heard administrators describe how they had "an abundance" of PPEs, how they'd been taking preventative steps at the nursing home for weeks and how the "Department of Health" had complimented the staff for being "ahead of the curve."
They also insisted that employees who were sick were not allowed to come to work.
Yet a Facebook post by someone with close ties to an employee said "management let an employee work for days showing symptoms before administrator sent employee home." The post said that employee later tested positive for coronavirus. The person who wrote the post said her friend also "began showing symptoms" and "was told by her leader that she had to report to work." According to the Facebook post, that employee has also now tested positive.
Multiple sources tell NewsChannel 5 Investigates that there are multiple employees who are now sick with coronavirus.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates have repeatedly reached out to the nursing home and the State Health department with questions about what is going on in the facility and how they are handling it, but we have received very little information from them.