Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspecting Newburgh long-term care facility

Coronavirus Watch Indiana

Image courtesy MGN Online.

INDIANAPOLIS (WXIN/WEHT) — Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA) is inspecting three Hoosier long-term care facilities after the deaths of four staff members, including one in Warrick County.

IOSHA spokesperson Stephanie McFarland said the employers indicated the fatalities were COVID-19-related.

In mid-April, IOSHA opened a safety compliance inspection after the employer of Wildwood HealthCare Center in Indianapolis reported the deaths of two employees.

Since then, McFarland explained two more long-term care facilities have each reported a death of a staff member.

She said an employer of a long-term care center in Newburgh reported one death, and another fatality was reported by a different employer in Paragon.

IOSHA has not said which nursing homes it is investigating, but a staff member from Signature HealthCARE in Newburgh died last Friday from coronavirus.

Warrick County Coroner Sarah Seaton says the 65-year-old nurse died from complications with the virus. Since the nurse lives in Spencer County, the death will not be attributed to Warrick County.

The nurse was the 13th person from Signature HealthCARE to die from coronavirus.

IOSHA does not determine cause of death. Rather, the agency is working to determine if the fatalities are workplace related. The state is also working to ensure the employer was taking reasonable steps under the circumstances to protect its workers.

Generally, during a safety compliance inspection IOSHA wants to find out if a company is compliant with IOSHA regulations.

“Whether these were related to the workplace or not is unknown,” McFarland said.

She said these inspections typically take 30 to 90 days to complete.

The company said they are testing all of the staff and residents at the facility, isolating all patients who are suspected of having COVID-19 and sending employees home to quarantine if they test positive.

Employees must show negative results from two consecutive COVID-19 tests.

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(This story was originally published on May 5, 2020)

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