Families Grieve Virginia Care Facility Deaths

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Families who lost loved ones at one of the Northern Virginia care facilities hardest hit by the coronavirus say they were left in the dark about their relatives’ illness until it was too late.

State health officials say 55 people died from Coronavirus at Annandale Healthcare Center — a number the company disputes.

Keith Melvey said his worries started around April 10 when he captured photos of an ambulance outside the facility, where his mother was a dementia patient.

Then he got a call from the facility. 

“Mr. Melvey, we are informing you that we do have cases of coronavirus,” he said he was told. 

Melvey says less than two weeks later, he was never told that his mom was showing coronavirus symptoms. He said she was not tested. He noticed the trouble in a phone call

“She didn’t sound right,” he said. “I said, ‘Hello, Mom,’ and she was mumbling a little bit.” 

Melvey said a nurse practitioner assured him, his mother was OK. The next day, he got a much different message. 

Coronavirus Cases in DC, Maryland and Virginia

COVID-19 cases by population in D.C. and by county in Maryland and Virginia

Source: DC, MD and VA Health Departments
Credit: Anisa Holmes / NBC Washington

“I got another call,” he said. “Your mom is dying. She’s got that faraway look.”

He raced to her bedside, allowed a final visit.

Leola Melvey died the next day. 

Gloria Jacobs tells of a similar experience. Her sister, Delores Moore, entered Annandale Healthcare in mid-March to have a heart condition monitored.

“When she went in there, she was walking and she was talking, and everything was normal,” Jacobs said.

But a few weeks later, Jacobs said her sister stopped answering the phone.

She said they called the nurse’s station.

”She said she may have a little bit of corona,” Jacobs said. “And we couldn’t figure out what a little of corona was like.”

The family asked to see Moore on FaceTime calls. In each one, she was progressively worse. 

Moore died in late May. Her death certificate and that of Leola Melvey cite presumed COVID-19 as the cause of death.

Both families are critical of how the facility treated them and their loved ones.

“I was angry; I was very angry,” Melvey said. “There should have been more preventative actions.

The attorney for the company that owns Annandale Healthcare said families have been updated weekly and facility-wide testing has been done three times.

The spokesman also said the company made a mistake when it reported COVID-19 deaths. They say 28 patients, not 55, have died there.

The facility has had 156 cases among patients, residents and staff.

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