GALLATIN, TN (WSMV) - A series of text threads from employees at the Gallatin Rehabilitation Center and Healing, obtained by News4 Investigates, show staff issuing an “SOS” for help to relieve exhausted workers and a lack of knowledge that their own peers had contracted COVID-19.
Twenty residents have died after contracting COVID-19 at the center.
At one point in the text conversation when a worker shares that an employee was in the hospital, another worker responds with, “We have a staff member hospitalized?”
Another worker responded, “There are at least a couple that have been hospitalized…that’s why I feel we should reach out.”
“I had no idea,” the worker responded.
Clint Kelly, an attorney who has given the center notice that he intends to sue on behalf of families and employees, said he too has heard from his clients that confusion was rampant among workers that the virus was spreading.
“Outraged that the facility did not keep them in the loop as they should have to prevent further exposure,” Kelly said.
Another text read from an employee, “Every available employee please get here as quickly as possible. SOS.”
The employee goes on to say that ex-employees were being asked to pick up linens and laundry so a restoration services company can clean.
Photos obtained by News4 Investigates show laundry and trash pile dup outside of rooms.
The employee wrote, “It looks like a breaking bomb went off in here between linen clothes and trash…(workers) are absolutely exhausted. We need help.”
“(Employees) were wearing as much protective gear as they could but still they were risking exposure during this process,” Kelly said.
Both Kelly and News4 Investigates independently heard from employees that before and during the crisis, workers were required to sign in and out of work on a biometric clock, which uses fingerprint technology to identify workers.
Employees continued to use this device even as the CDC warned that COVID-19 lived on surfaces for days.
“Everyone put their hands on that clock when they came in, everybody put their hands on that clock when they left,” Kelly said.
Both Kelly and News4 Investigates also independently heard from employees that even after a staff member was revealed to have COVID-19, staff were gathered in a small room daily for meetings.
“(The administrator) was having employees sit next to each other as far as one or two feet apart,” Kelly said.
News4 Investigates repeatedly reached out to the center for comment, but have not heard from them by our deadline.