SALT LAKE CITY — The daughter of a nursing care resident who died during an outbreak of COVID-19 at a skilled nursing facility is speaking out, saying that Pine Creek Nursing and Rehab didn't let her family know what was going on.
When Karen Brinkerhoff's mother Janice Blodgett died Thursday of last week, Karen said Janice's nurse told her the 85-year old died peacefully in her sleep.
Janice has dementia. Karen was under the impression that she didn't suffer.
"I know she is at peace, and that she's okay," Karen said.
Her family even went to the funeral home to see Janice the day she passed.
But one day later, Karen described how she saw Janice's nursing care center-- Pine Creek Rehab and Nursing-- in the news.
She saw articles online about a, "woman passing away that was 85 at a nursing facility, and that the woman had COVID-19."
Karen said she and her sister-in-law began to wonder if that 85 year old was their mom.
On Saturday, Karen said her sister called Pine Creek to ask, and found out that Janice did indeed contract COVID-19, and was the resident talked about in the news articles.
Janice's death came during an outbreak that spread through Pine Creek, sickening several residents and staff members.
Pine Creek said in a statement on their website that the positive COVID-19 result came back the day after she passed away.
However Karen's sister, Debbie Brinkerhoff, said the nurse told her that the positive test came back an hour before Janice died-- and that staff members were shocked when Janice didn't make it.
Karen said she is the legal guardian and primary contact for Janice, but Pine Creek never called her to tell her that her mother was tested, or that it was the reason Janice died.
"I was never called or anything," she said. "And that's the disappointing part-- to be left in the dark, and then find out online from news stories. And put two and two together."
On Sunday, FOX 13 reported how the sister of another Pine Creek resident who tested positive for COVID-19 said their family also never received a call about the diagnosis, until the sister took it upon herself to call the facility after seeing the outbreak in the news.
"It's just the communication has had me a little leery on, what is the truth?" Farida Fox questioned, during an interview on Sunday.
Karent said it was a huge failure on the part of Pine Creek leadership.
"You go through so many emotions of anger-- feeling, in a sense, betrayed by the place that you trusted," she said. "And it's hard to really mourn her. I haven't been able, to because I'm just trying to figure things out and what really took place."
Pine Creek has not responded to FOX 13's multiple calls and emails for comment.
A statement on their website reads, in part: "We should have followed up and contacted the designated family member with this new information and we apologize for not having done so. Moving forward, we plan to provide regular updates..."
For Karen, it's too late.
She said staff reporter her mom-- who is usually fun and energetic-- had been sick and acting fatigued the week before she died.
Karen will never know if the quicker communication and action would have made a difference in getting her mother the help she needed before she died.
"She was an amazing human being," Karen said, through tears. "She didn't deserve to die like this. Alone, without her family. That's the hard part."