Grieving family speaks after COVID-19 outbreak at Cape May County nursing home leaves man dead

LOWER TOWNSHIP, New Jersey (WPVI) -- One resident has died in what Cape May County officials call an outbreak of COVID-19 at a nursing home.

Officials with Victoria Manor in Lower Township, N.J. said Tuesday 16 residents and 12 staff members have tested positive for COVID19, and one resident has died.

Family members identified the resident as 86-year-old George Lees.

"My dad wasn't a statistic. He was someone that we loved," said Lees' daughter, Joann Michalski. "So when they tell you to stay home and wash your hands, you need to stay home and wash your hands."

The father of seven died Monday evening at Cape Regional Medical Center after his family says he became ill at Victoria Manor. He tested positive for COVID-19 once he was at the hospital.

Michalski said her father's symptoms started with hallucinations, not the typical fever and cough.

Victoria Manor's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Richard Feifer said in a statement released Tuesday, "We are doing everything in our power, and everything medical experts know as of at this time, to protect our patients, residents and employees. "

The Cape May County Department of Health says Victoria Manor is following all health recommendations, and says 400 surgical masks and 200 gowns have been delivered to the facility.

State officials said Tuesday 188 long term care facilities in New Jersey have reported at least one case of COVID-19.

"We decided this morning that the team at the department of health - that we have to develop a statewide plan. To assist the nursing homes that are experiencing outbreaks and also shortage of staff and equipment," said New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.

Persichilli also said this plan may require moving some residents. She acknowledged this may be upsetting for some patients, but she said it's important to keep the elderly safe.
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