The Pennsylvania National Guard has not been deployed to provide staff support or patient care for residents inside of Brighton Rehabilitation And Wellness Center, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH).
Statements made by DOH to BeaverCountian.com Saturday night about the National Guard’s non-involvement appear to conflict with a statement given to the Beaver County Times by the facility’s administration that said it has received assistance.
Data compiled by the state and analyzed by BeaverCountian.com suggests 315 residents of Brighton Rehab have tested positive for COVID-19, with 71 deaths, as of Saturday. Nearly two dozen employees also appear to have tested positive for the virus.
BeaverCountian.com contacted DOH shortly after 1 p.m. on Saturday in an attempt to verify the information it was receiving from healthcare workers at Brighton Rehab. Two sources said they were told by superiors that the National Guard was being called in, but could not provide first-hand confirmation. DOH replied to BeaverCountian.com that there were no updates to report with the facility.
Beaver County Commissioner Chairman Dan Camp told BeaverCountian.com he had received no information about the National Guard being deployed. BeaverCountian.com contributor Matthew LaComb reported seeing nothing outside of the facility Saturday evening to indicate its presence.
The Times then published an article shortly after 9 p.m. Saturday, titled, “Officials: National Guard in place at Brighton Rehab.”
In the report, which began “Help has arrived,” the Times stated that the “Pennsylvania National Guard was activated and put in place at Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center Saturday.”
But in a series of late-night-answers to questions from BeaverCountian.com Saturday, the DOH insisted that is not the case.
“The National Guard is not on-site at Brighton to provide staff support at this time,” said April Hutcheson, Communications Director for DOH, in a statement sent at 10:30 p.m. “The (Department of Health) is working with (the PA National Guard) to assess what support may be needed and how it will be applied. (The National Guard) did an on-site assessment today and did not provide staff support or care.”
The Times’ reporting was based on a statement it received from administrators of Brighton Rehab.
“Beginning immediately, Brighton will join seven other long-term care facilities in the state to have requested and receive additional personnel and logistics support from the Pennsylvania National Guard to assist our teams in the fight against COVID-19,” the paper quoted facility administrators as saying. “While we continue to make positive strides in our efforts to control and prevent the further spread of COVID-19, support from the National Guard will allow our facility to get much-needed relief by permitting our nurses and aides to redirect their time and attention to the increasing health needs of our residents.”
After being provided with a copy of Brighton Rehab’s statement, DOH reiterated to BeaverCountian.com the National Guard has only been involved in conducting an assessment of the facility in conjunction with the department.
BeaverCountian.com has reached out to the National Guard in an attempt to get further clarification and will provide an update with any information it receives.
“We are working on installing a temporary manager at the facility and I hope to have more details on that forthcoming,” Hutcheson said.
Confusion over the National Guard’s role at Brighton Rehab comes on the heels of confusion about that outside manager.
Who’s Running The Place?
DOH Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine made an announcement on April 29 that her department had placed a temporary manager at Brighton Rehabilitation on April 15. But shortly after her announcement, Brighton Rehab issued a statement saying it hired The Long Hill Company as a consultant but no outside organization was managing its facility.
The Long Hill Company also issued a statement saying it was not “managing, operating or surveying the facility.”
The DOH subsequently acknowledged that The Long Hill Company was, in fact, acting as a consultant for Brighton Rehab at the department’s recommendation but at the facility’s expense.
Then during a press conference on May 8, Levine said the DOH would soon be imposing a temporary manager for Brighton Rehab who would be paid for and overseen by her department.
“We had put in what we call a temporary manager, so this is voluntary on behalf of the facility,” Levine said. “They’re calling it a consultant. It’s a little matter of semantics, but we are actually going to be placing in a state-chosen and state-funded temporary manager for that facility.”
It is unclear when that outside manager will take on oversight of Brighton Rehab.
Editor’s Note: Shortly following the publication of this article, BeaverCountian.com received the following “update” from the Pennsylvania Department of Health: Department Of Health: National Guard Will Help Brighton Rehab For A Week Then Help From Texas Is Taking Over.