ANDERSON — On Monday, State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box announced that 11 residents of Bethany Pointe assisted living facility in Anderson had died of COVID-19.
As the week went on, families grieved and worried as the virus spread.
On Friday, Box reported that the death count had reached 24, with 16 of the deceased having tested positive for the coronavirus and the eight others having displayed symptoms.
Two families of Bethany Pointe residents shared their stories with The Herald Bulletin on Friday afternoon.
When the Madison County Health Department reported Monday that Bethany Pointe had a major COVID-19 outbreak, Max Loudenback went on to the White Ribbon for Hope Facebook page and asked other members to pray for his sister, Jean Long.
Later that day, Long, 94, who was at Bethany Pointe for rehabilitative surgery to repair a dislocated and broken artificial hip after a fall, ran a high fever. She tested positive for COVID-19 and was sent to the facility’s hospice program and put under sedation.
On Wednesday, Loudenback announced on his own Facebook page that his sister had died.
“We are still emotionally off balance from this tragedy,” the New Castle resident said.
Loudenback said casting blame on Bethany Pointe’s staff is useless. He said the facility appeared to take the proper steps to prevent the spread of the virus even before the first cases were reported.
“Bethany Pointe had one of the best reputations among nursing homes in Anderson. Their staff came with the highest praise from many people,” he said. “They were preventing visitation for quite a while before, so many seemed to suddenly die there.”
However, Loudenback, who described Long as an angel who always tried to help people, is bitter about a perceived lack of communication with the families.
“They could have notified us when the first cases occurred, and perhaps we could have brought Jean home and tried again to care for her ourselves,” he said.
Like many families, Loudenback faces grieving without the benefit of attending his sister’s funeral. To limit the spread of coronavirus, the state has restricted the number of people in public gatherings to no more than 10, including at funerals.
“Now, because of the virus, we will have a difficult time even having a funeral for my sister,” he said. “I am diabetic, with high blood pressure and a heart arrhythmia that makes me reluctant to even gather with my closest family for any kind of service.”
Rebecca R. Bibbs
Martha ‘Nell’ Miles
Martha “Nell” Miles, 70, was a former patient of Bethany Pointe.
Her son, Marvin Miles, said in a Facebook post that his mom was at the facility for rehabilitation of her leg muscles after a fall.
Nell Miles, who was diagnosed with COVID-19, died March 30.
Lisa Miles said her mother-in-law was transferred from Bethany Pointe to a local hospital and died within hours. She said both Nell Miles and her husband were hospitalized early in March with pneumonia, but her father-in-law was released from the hospital a few days before his wife.
Nell Miles returned to Bethany Pointe after falling a few times while at home, said Lisa Miles.
When Nell Miles was found unresponsive at Bethany Pointe and rushed by ambulance to a nearby hospital, a nurse told Lisa Miles they would test her mother-in-law for the disease.
“They told us to call back up there after she passed to get the results,” Lisa Miles said. “It was four days before the results came back and that’s when they found out.”
Nell Miles was born in Mississippi and moved to Indiana as a child. She graduated from Anderson High School in 1967. For a brief period of time she lived in Chicago, but she returned to Anderson to raise her family.
She was a counselor and social worker at Pendleton Juvenile Center.
Traci L. Miller