Former employees of a Michigan nursing home say it had a strict mask policy in the weeks after the pandemic hit the state: No masks allowed. Three ex-employees are suing the the Villages of Lapeer Nursing and Rehabilitation in Lapeer, along with relatives of Wanda Parker, one of 19 residents who died of COVID-19. Taylor Minifield, a former certified nursing assistant at Villages of Lapeer, says bosses told them they weren't allowed to wear masks because it would scare the patients. Minifield says that she told director of nursing Jill Vankerschaver toward the end of March that she was wearing a mask to work because her mother's cancer doctor had said she needed to. "She snatched it off my face and threw it in the trash," Minifield tells WXYZ. Vankerschaver abruptly resigned on April 7.
Minifield and Tasha Harden, another former CNA at the facility, say masks and other protective equipment were donated by the community, but Vankerschaver kept them in her office, saying they were for "emergencies." Harden and Minifield, who both became ill with COVID-19, say in their lawsuit that they warned authorities in late March that numerous residents had symptoms, but were told there were no plans to test residents "because they could not possibly have it," reports the Detroit Free Press. Dave Williams, whose 68-year-old mother, Wanda Parker, died in early April after becoming infected at Villages of Lapeer, is also suing. He says other nursing homes in the area had far fewer cases than Villages of Lapeer, which accounted for more than half of the county's COVID deaths. "She was taken from us for no good reason," he says. (Read more coronavirus stories.)