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Family seeks answers after grandfather tests positive for COVID-19 at long-term care facility

Posted at 10:30 PM, Oct 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-23 23:30:50-04

TULSA, Okla. — A Tulsa family wants answers after they say their grandfather died as a result of a COVID-19 outbreak at his long-term care facility.

“Anybody he came in contact with, they just fell in love with him," Tiffany Tillman said.

Tillman is remembering her grandfather, Virgil Busby, also known as Ray.

He spent the last several years of his life in the memory unit at The Ambassador Skilled Nursing and Therapy in Tulsa.

About two weeks ago, Ray started getting sick, eventually testing positive for COVID-19. He was taken to the hospital, where he died Monday.

“Not being able to be with your loved one when they’re passing, knowing that they’re going, he deserved to have his daughters on each side of him holding his hand," Tillman said.

Now, the family is left to mourn and search for answers. They don’t believe the facility gave her grandfather proper care when he got sick. They also don't think it took the right precautions to prevent the spread of COVID.

Tillman said The Ambassador sent a letter to families saying a hospice nurse at the facility tested positive at the end of Sept. She said that nurse took care of Ray’s longtime roommate and best friend, Leonard, who passed away just two days before Ray.

“But this is where the frustrating part comes in as the family," Tillman said. "What’s the protocol? What are they doing to test these people who are going into these facilities with these residents who are at high-risk?”

Tillman said there was a lack of communication from the facility when her grandfather got sick.

“I feel like every family that has a loved one that is in a nursing home, any kind of facility, they have a right to ask the questions," she said. "They have a right to know what protocol is. They have a right because we didn’t. And now we don’t have my grandfather.”

A letter from The Ambassador said between May 8 and Oct. 14, 15 staff members and 23 residents tested positive for the virus.

The company shared a statement with 2 Works for You saying:

"The Facility wishes to express its thanks to the public for their thoughts, prayers and support for our residents, families, and team members. Last week, several residents began experiencing symptoms which, after precautionary testing, it was anticipated would result in positive COVID 19 tests. Since that time, a number of those tests have been confirmed to be positive. In addition, a number of staff members were tested and determined to be positive as well. Notification of all these events has already been provided to all residents and families, as well as the Oklahoma State Department of Health in accordance with both facility policy and state and federal law.
The Facility continues to follow guidance provided by the CDC, state and local officials and our medical professionals as we respond to this situation. This includes the isolation of any resident determined to be positive or potentially positive. Any resident who exhibits symptoms, regardless of testing, is presumed positive and treated accordingly and the goal remains the same as it has been since this pandemic began; to avoid the spread of the virus and mitigate its effects on our population."
The Ambassador Skilled Nursing and Therapy

Meanwhile, for Ray’s family, they’re now turning their heartache into a message for others and wishing they had more time.

“It’s a goodbye, but it’s not the goodbye that he deserved," Tillman said. "And it’s certainly not closure for us.”

The Oklahoma State Department of Health told 2 Works for You it’s monitoring the outbreak at The Ambassador. It’s performing outbreak testing and conducted a COVID survey this week. We asked for the results of that survey, but it's still under investigation.

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