AARP responds to Huntersville Oaks nursing home transfers amid pandemic

AARP responds to Huntersville Oaks nursing home transfers amid pandemic

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Atrium Health, which owns the Huntersville Oaks nursing facility, plans to transfer many residents out of the facility to make way for coronavirus patients.

A WBTV Investigates story on the nursing facility last week generated lots of calls and letters.

Now, the outcry from residents and their families has attracted the attention of AARP, who’s submitted a letter to the governor, calling for policy revisions to protect seniors who are being forced to move out of their home.

Demetrice Benton says her heart breaks when she thinks about her 90 year old grandmother being forced to pack and leave Huntersville Oaks, and she is not alone.

She too can’t understand why her dad, who is recovering from a stroke, was forced to move in the middle of the pandemic.

According to Dr. Catherine Sevier with AARP, “If we were asked to move to another facility and to bring our things and to go to a place where we didn’t know anybody we would be distressed. Add to that many of these nursing home patients or most of them have other nursing needs.”

AARP of North Carolina wrote a letter to Governor Roy Cooper in April, calling on him to develop more compassionate policies and procedures surrounding moving residents in long-term care facilities.

“There would be processes in place for emergency movement of a patient or discharge that would really show, require the nursing home to go through certain steps,” said Sevier.

AARP is pushing for transparency, improved communication, and help for caregivers and their families.

“We’ve also encouraged minimal involuntary transfer and discharge of residents, because we see that as a very destabilizing situation for the residents, certainly, and the families."

As AARP calls for revisions, Demetrice’s grandmother has already been transferred to a nursing home about an hour’s drive from her home at Huntersville Oaks. She misses her friends and is upset about the way she was treated.

“She doesn’t really want to go back there once this is over because of the way they did them,” Benton said.

Atrium last week, said it’s critical to utilize advanced care facilities like Huntersville Oaks to care for coronavirus patients, indicating “this is a plan that will save lives.”

AARP says the Governor and NCDHHS say, all nursing homes in the state are in compliance with transfer regulations.

However, in a written response to AARP they indicated, ”CMS is in the process of drafting additional regulatory requirements for facilities to notify residents and their representatives regarding conditions inside the facility, such as when new cases of COVID-19 occur.”

Copyright 2020 WBTV. All rights reserved.