A video on Friday was making the rounds on special media showing what a nursing home employee claimed was an administrator loading up his car with multiple boxes of what was made out to be personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to keep workers and patients shielded from the coronavirus. The footage uploaded to social media on Thursday afternoon ended up going went viral in part because of the urgent narrative provided by the woman who was filming at the RegalCare facility in Greenwich, Connecticut.
It starts out with the camera trained on a worker who was pushing about eight cardboard boxes on a dolly cart while the unidentified woman’s voice narrates. She said the administrator “asked maintenance to take it out” to his car. She then zooms in on the packages.
“These are the supplies that we’re supposed to be using for the virus,” she said. “Now it’s going out the building.”
She later said, “we have people with the virus in the building.” before adding: “They’re leaving us unprotected!”
Another woman dressed in scrubs could be seen running into the frame and knocking a couple of boxes off of the dolly and briefly stopping the maintenance man and the administrator from walking side-by-side to his car in the parking lot outside the nursing home. But the maintenance man, who remained silent through the entire video, picked them up and kept going toward the car.
“I wanna see what’s in the boxes,” the other woman who ran toward the two men can be heard demanding. She exchanged a few terse words with the administrator before walking away in the direction of the nursing home.
The woman filming then gets her camera close to the boxes and claimed, “these are gowns, see?”
After threatening to call the local TV news station, the woman filming asked, “how come you left your staff unprotected and taking out supplies in times like this to take somewhere else? … How could you do this?”
Undeterred, both the maintenance man and the administrator then began to load the boxes into the back of his SUV.
The woman filming the video then moved her camera closer to the boxes so that the viewers could read the label: “Large Painter’s Coveralls.”
Watch the video below:
The video ended soon after but the episode was apparently far from over.
That’s because a New York City news reporter tweeted about 24 hours later that the boxes contained — wait for it — painter’s coveralls. The contents of the boxes were “Not PPEs. “RegalCare in Greenwich has plenty of those,” Michelle Charlesworth of Channel 7 WABC News tweeted.
Charlesworth also reported that contrary to what the woman filming the video claimed, there is “No COVID at that site.” She added that the “Admin seen in video taking boxes to car understands that staff are on edge” even though the only words he was seen saying on the video appeared to be in a contentious context with the other nursing home employee wearing the scrubs.
Still, there was no reference to painting happening at the facility and it was unclear why the administrator was removing the items and placing hem into his car. The U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration defined PPE in part as “equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses” and included “coveralls” as an example of applicable personal protective equipment.
The entire episode underscored just how on-edge health care professionals are simultaneously caring for patients and themselves while working just a few short miles away from America’s coronavirus epicenter that is New York City. The video was filmed amid a dire shortage of PPE across the country for everybody from doctors to patients to healthy people trying to protect themselves from the respiratory illness that has infected more than 275,000 people in the United States and killed more than 7,000 others.
Coronavirus cases in Connecticut were set to exceed 5,000 on Friday with more than 130 deaths. Elderly people with pre-existing health conditions — like many people who live in nursing homes — are reportedly among the most vulnerable to the disease, which explains the reaction from the woman filming the video.
She may have also had another reason to suspect the worst. The RegalCare at Greenwich was fined in 2017 by the state department of public health for what Patch reported was “ on several occasions in less than a year.” However, none of those offenses were related to the outbreak of a contagious disease that was part of a global pandemic.