ST CHARLES, Mo. — Fifteen staff members and three patients have tested positive for COVID-19 at a private psychiatric hospital in St. Charles.
On Monday, CenterPointe Hospital announced, it will temporarily stop admissions.
CenterPointe Hospital offers mental health and substance abuse services.
One employee said CenterPointe Hospital is vital, as it gives patients an opportunity to start over.
But some workers inside tell 5 On Your Side the hospital acted a little too late.
Nine employees reached out to 5 On Your Side voicing concerns.
They all wanted to remain anonymous, but they believe the hospital was not equipped to handle this. And employees say issues started before the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We got a new owner about three years ago. Now it's more corporate-run, rather than it be run by psychiatrists," said one staff member who has worked at the hospital for more than 10 years. "There have been many irregularities in the last year especially, but now with COVID-19, this is life or death."
One concern many voiced? The lack of cleaning.
"They’ve never done a deep cleaning," another employee told us, "they’ll have a cleaning service does very little."
Another says they are not professionally decontaminating the building. We are told some bring their own cleaning supplies.
In a press release, CenterPointe said they provided terminal cleaning of closed units to prepare them for use.
As for PPE, the hospital said they offered masks to staff earlier than recommended.
But a staff member said they had to beg for masks and didn't get them until March 25, four days after the first patient tested positive.
"Not only did I have to get beg. We didn't get N95's and that mask had to last me two weeks. Mine was wet, sweaty, and there was no way it was going to last for two weeks," one employee said.
"Our efforts to control the spread of this virus in our hospital have included eliminating visitation, taking the temperatures of all staff and vendors, distributing masks and other PPE to staff, educating patients and keeping them apprised of developments regarding the virus, encouraging social distancing among patients and reducing group size, quarantining units on which patients with known positive results have resided," CenterPointe's press release said.
Frustrated employees say not all vendors were getting their temperatures checked. They also claim admissions weren't tested.
"They didn’t test patients as they came in, they just took their temperature. But some patients don't have symptoms of a temperature," an employee said.
Every employee that called claimed, "They want to keep those beds full." One said, "The thought was, let’s keep these patients coming in, as many as we can. It’s a small, for-profit hospital."
Staff members say COVID-19 spread like wildfire, with 15 employees and 3 patients with the disease. "
The staff and patients were probably infecting each other," the anonymous source said, and claimed there are more.
A family member of a patient also reached out to 5 On Your Side stating they were never notified by the hospital that staff tested positive.
Employees tell us they acted too little too late.
"CenterPointe is essential, but they need to close it and clean it," one said.
5 On Your Side did reach out for comment based on these allegations. We got an email back saying, the CEO of the company will respond to these accusations Tuesday afternoon. They also said the accusations are blatantly false.
The anonymous employees also said they found out Monday night they will resume admissions Tuesday. A spokesperson for CenterPointe confirmed they will start back up again with admissions on Tuesday.
As for help for outpatients, they are offering telehealth.
Right now, not having these services can be tough, but for anyone needing help during this time in the St. Charles County area, Community Strong, a health and wellness initiative, offers resources and information.
"There’s help for you," Carissa Figgins, the Executive Director for Community Strong said, "everyone is pulling right now to give you the resources that you need right now."
She said you can reach out on the website for help.