A Greenwood man’s grieving family is upset that no one at the nursing home where he lived told them he had contracted COVID-19 until after he had died from the respiratory disease.
But a spokesman for the facility, Crystal Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center, says the nursing home following the wishes of the resident, who did not want his health problems disclosed.
Samuel Durant died May 12 at the nursing home, where he had resided since 2015. He was 72.
He had underlying health conditions, including diabetes and high blood pressure, said a daughter, Barbara Barcus.
Barcus, who lives in Memphis, said she received a call from her mother on the day Durant died.
“When she first said, ‘Your dad is gone,’ I said, ‘Gone where?’” Barcus said. “I wasn’t expecting her to say he was dead. I was in shock.”
She questioned why relatives weren’t notified about her father’s health condition when it turned for the worse and why he wasn’t sent to Greenwood Leflore Hospital for treatment. “I feel like he got cheated with his life,” Barcus said.
Joe Gimenez, a spokesman for Crystal Rehab’s parent company, Nexion Health, said Friday that the nursing home followed Durant’s wishes as to whom to contact about his health.
He also said that Crystal Rehab can treat patients for a wide range of symptoms and problems and that with the current pandemic, the nursing home tries not to move patients outside of the facility if possible.
Crystal Rehab has been plagued by a major outbreak of the virus, which is particularly hard on nursing home residents because of their age or other health problems. The Greenwood facility is believed to account for most of the 12 deaths of long-term care resident in Leflore County.
Durant’s brother, Andrew Durant of Greenwood, said a Crystal Rehab employee called him a week before his brother’s death to say that his brother had diarrhea and had recently tested negative for COVID-19. The employee added that Samuel would be tested for COVID-19 again later that day.
A few days later, Andrew called the nursing home again to inquire about the results of his brother’s second COVID-19 test. He said he was told by an employee that Samuel did not want his family to know about his condition.
“It was a surprise to me,” Andrew recalled, adding he wouldn’t know why his brother would say that.
Samuel’s younger sister, Lula Durant, was surprised as well when she no longer received health updates about her brother.
For about 15 years, she had held power-of-attorney responsibilities for him. She said that when he was admitted into Crystal Rehab five years ago, she would receive regular communications from its employees about her brother, including when he changed medications or was taken to the hospital.
Late last year, Lula was told by a Crystal Rehab employee that her brother held his own power of attorney. Surprised, she brought to the nursing home a copy of the document detailing that she had been named to make decisions on his behalf, only to be rebuffed again, she said.
“They did me like a dog. We’re the ones taking care of my brother all his life.”
Andrew said that his brother’s decision to stop having family contacted about his health wouldn’t have mattered and that they still should have been informed.
Both Lula and Andrew visited their brother regularly at the facility before a lockdown was ordered in March at long-term care facilities across Mississippi to try to slow the spread of COVID-19. Both said they called the nursing home afterward to inquire about their brother’s health to no avail. Lula said she personally made several unsuccessful attempts.
Andrew said he only learned his brother had tested positive for the virus when a nursing home employee called to tell him Samuel had died.
“I was angry, and I was sad,” Andrew said.
Samuel Durant was born and raised in Morgan City. He worked on farms until his health began to fail him, Barcus said, explaining his muscles were weakened and he eventually had to be housed at Crystal Rehab.
Barcus said she’ll miss her father’s laughter, wisdom and guidance. Andrew said he’ll miss the daily get-togethers, prior to the lockdown, that he had with his brother, during which they’d laugh and share their thoughts.
Samuel is also survived by two other siblings and four other children.
“We want to express our condolences to all of his family members,” said Gimenez, the nursing home’s spokesman.
•Contact Gerard Edic at 581-7239 or firstname.lastname@example.org.