Charles Dunn is a beloved member of the Palm Springs community, and important to history too. He worked for President John F. Kennedy’s administration and is the last surviving person aboard Air Force One on that fateful trip to Dallas.
“I watched them load the casket, and that was really surreal, disbelief and sadness you know this couldn’t be possible,” said Dunn in an interview with NBC Palm Springs in 2017.
On Saturday, Dunn had a bad fall.
His life alert notified his friend.
“There was blood everywhere on the bathroom floor … it was a pretty hard fall,” says Tom Harm, who lives in Palm Springs.
Harm says Dunn was taken to ManorCare Health Services in Palm Desert after being checked out at the hospital, since then, his friends say they have not been allowed to see him
“He has not had any visitors, I’ve told him I tried to get in but I can’t, they won’t,” says Harm adding, “I feel very uneasy about the whole thing because something in my gut says something’s wrong with this place not allowing visitors.”
And that’s not the only concern.
“He says he calls and presses the buzzer on his bed to get help but he can’t get anybody to come so we don’t know if it’s true or false because we don’t know how bad his injuries are,” says Harm who says he has been able to speak to him by phone.
His only family, his sister Wanda Thompson, lives in Texas so he is relying on friends for help and much needed company.
“Extremely worried that I want him to get the proper help and care than he needs but it’s really difficult when you’re out of state,” says Wanda who called as we were interviewing Harm, adding that his friends have been a godsend.
Thompson has similar complaints and worse.
“He says that when he calls the call button he just doesn’t get responses … he keeps calling and calling he did try to get up and go to the restroom and when he came back he fell again,” says Thompson.
We visited ManorCare and told them about Dunn’s concerned loved ones and asked for an interview. They declined and said their corporate office would call us. As we were interviewing his friend ManorCare called and scheduled a visit.
Something Harm says wouldn’t have happened had we not intervened.
Their corporate office also declined an interview and sent us a statement:
ManorCare Health Services – Palm Desert continues to follow department of health, CDC and CMS guidance on infection control and long-term care facility visits. Our preference is outdoor visits, but we are allowing indoor visits. We continue to follow infection control procedures which includes scheduling the visit, monitoring all visitors for fever, etc. and social distancing. We only limit visits if the patient has an active infection or the COVID-19 levels don’t meet the department of health minimum. Our goal is the safety and well-being of everyone in our center and we follow our own infection control processes as well as the CDC and CMS’ requirements for long term care facilities.
For this specific patient, we have had arranged visits and continue to accommodate visits for friends and families. We will touch base with the patient to ensure his needs are being met and help him navigate the visitation process that remains in place for skilled nursing facilities.
Quality care is of paramount concern at ManorCare and we work very hard to ensure its delivery to each resident and patient. We appreciate every patient’s and family’s concerns or questions during their rehab stay at ManorCare and our priority is our patients’ well-being and safety. Whenever we are presented with a concern or question, we immediately address it or investigate it. We take any concern or question seriously.
We continually refine our procedures and policies to provide the quality of care we are committed to. We feel we provide appropriate care and have the right systems in place to care for the patients that chose us.
In accordance with federal and state laws and regulations, we are not permitted to discuss individual patients who reside or have resided in the facility due to our commitment to patient confidentiality and resident rights.
Assistant Vice President, Marketing Communications
ProMedica Senior Care and Foundations
The CDC and and CMS has stated visits should be allowed at all times as the physical and mental wellbeing of the patients can deteriorate when isolated. They also say if this is not possible to do while still following protocols, visits can be scheduled.
ManorCare did not specify why visits were limited or in this case not allowed for days and denied they did not allow him visitors.
We’ve looked into this facility before and they have a long history of violations and complaints with the California Department of Public Health that include physical and sexual abuse. In 2019 they were fined over $13,000, reports say the facility failed to protect residents from abuse and neglect.
For now Dunn’s friends say they just want to comfort him during his time of need
“Pretty much scared for my friend … he’s pretty upset and thinks he’s going to die in there,” says Harm.