News 3 investigation: Phenix City Rehab hospital confirms COVID-19 cases with patients and staff

Coronavirus

WRBL News 3 has been looking into reports of a COVID-19 outbreak in an East Alabama rehabilitation hospital.

Multiple sources told WRBL News 3 there had been virus issues inside Regional Rehabilitation Hospital on U.S. 280 in Phenix City.

There are 227 people employed at the 58-bed facility.

Here’s what we know:

After learning that there may have been an outbreak at Regional Rehab, News 3 put the question to Lora Davis, the hospital’s CEO. She referred me to a spokesperson, Hillary Carnel.

The first response from Regional Rehab came late Tuesday afternoon:

“Our team is following the reporting, notification, quarantine and medical follow-up recommendations provided by the CDC and local health authorities, and we’ve continued to work closely with the health department and have followed their guidance to limit risk of spread to our team and patients,” the statement read in part.

The key phrase in that statement was “Limit the spread.” That indicated officially that there was virus contamination inside the hospital.

News 3 followed up with the questions below:

  • Can you tell me how many cases have been reported at Regional Rehab? 
  • How many staff cases?
  • How many patient cases?
  • How many deaths?
  • When was first case reported?
  • Have there been any staff or management changes during the COVID-19 outbreak?

News 3 was told that the numbers we were seeking woud have to be obtained from the Alabama Department of Public Health. An infectus disese doctor with Alabama DPH told News 3 the agency does not release institution specific information.

News 3 reached out to Alabama State Rep. Chris Blackshear of Phenix City. Late Wednesday, the Regional Rehab spokesperson responded with more information.

“COVID-19 is very present in our community and the surrounding counties, and unfortunately, like other hospitals in our area, we have had employees and patients at our hospital test positive,” the statement read in part.

The exact numbers of cases inside the hospital that employs 227 people. But a source familiar with it said the staff cases alone have exceeded 25.

There is continuous patient turnover in the facility because they are not a nursing home, but a short-term facility designed to get people where they can return home.

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