Second demonstration at The Grand pushes for major changes

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On Saturday, participants in a second planned demonstration at the 801 North James St. seated The Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing facility.

The first protest was held in early August after resident RaeJean Wallace posted video testimonials to Facebook citing concerns of a lack of adequate care at a time when COVID-19 is prevalent in nursing facilities.

As a group armed with signs and a goal of drawing attention to care concerns lined the sidewalk in front of the facility Saturday afternoon, car horns honked and passersby were heard yelling both viewpoints of, “get a life” and “right on.”

This, after administrators at The Grand and the state Health Department confirmed this week that no deficiencies were found during an investigation conducted by the state office.

On Saturday, Christina Audi, administrator at The Grand in Rome declined to offer a comment in reaction to the demonstration, but did say, “We take every complaint very seriously… The Department of Health found no evidence to substantiate the claim.”

According to information from the state Department of Health, investigations of nursing facilities regarding COVID-19 related matters follow guidelines set out by the United States Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Criteria examined includes facility preparedness, testing and infection control.

A full breakdown of what is looked at during COVID-19 related investigations is outlined online here: https://www.cms.gov/files/document/qso-20-38-nh.pdf

Still, families involved in recent demonstrations are hoping for more.

For Donna Hughes, whose former husband Michael Grifasi died on April 20 after contracting COVID-19 while in residence at The Grand, there is a hope that something will come from the attention.

“If we could reform all nursing homes across the United States … Where everyone can be treated like a human being. Maybe something good can come from this,” Hughes said.

“I just hope the workers know we’re not against all of them,” she said.

Earlier in the week, Marissa Grifasi-Williams daughter of Donna Hughes and the late Michael Grifasi said that while there are negative staff issues at the facility - which have contributed to problems such as a lack of communication with families, less than adequate personal care for patient needs and unclean conditions such as fecal matter left in showers and soiled bedding not promptly changed - there are also kind, caring staff.

The families speaking out have indicated they want more consistency across the board.

“We had hoped for major changes,” said Ruth Wallace, RaeJean Wallace’s daughter who has organized the demonstrations.

On Saturday, Ruth Wallace said that her mother’s videos on Facebook have garnered over 100,000 views but she still has had to make multiple calls in recent weeks to ask about care duties for her mother.

Still, she said she has seen small changes and is hopeful for improvements in the future.

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