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Nursing home worker recounts warehouse evacuation horrors, decries owner

Published: Oct. 8, 2021 at 10:39 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - It took six months for her aunt to settle into the nursing home where Janice Verdin worked, but she says her aunt Marie started dancing again.

“I like having her there because I could keep a close eye on her,” said Verdin.

Verdin would wind up keeping a very close eye on her aunt as they evacuated to a warehouse in Independence for hurricane Ida with hundreds of others.

“Whenever we walked in he walked in and you saw the mattresses on the floor that was the first red flag for me, it was bright 24/7. The residents crying out for help, that’s probably the worst, they were dirty for so long and there’s nothing you can do. We should never have been placed in a warehouse with those conditions with porta’s left with only four sinks to wash your hands and no COVID protocols in place, it should’ve never happened,” said Verdin.

The only bright spot she said was distracting her aunt from the crammed quarters.

“Start singing a song like if you’re happy and you know it because I knew that would rile her up and she starts laughing,” said Verdin.

Verdin is one of the dozens of nurses suing the owner Bob dean, claiming he shorted their paychecks after working around the clock during the evacuation.

She says in the end it’s not about the money.

“We are entrusted with these residents to take care of them. If a storm comes, we’re going to bring them to a safe place where they have everything they need, I kind of feel like my dog’s kennel was better than where we were placed, I take care of my pet morally better than he considers taking care of us and the residents,” said Verdin.

“The reasons they gave to revoke the license are wrong and they’re not going to be able to prove them at a trial they’re not justified,” said John McLindon.

Facing multiple lawsuits already, attorneys for Dean also filed an appeal to re-instate his nursing home licenses pulled by the department of health following the warehouse incident.

“He and his staff are faced with a very fast rapidly and quite honestly they did a darn good job in light of everything that was going on, so I don’t think they have the right to vote these licenses they just did in. I think they overstepped their boundaries; I think they rushed their judgment here,” said McLindon.

“I just hope he doesn’t get his licenses reinstated, that would be a big mistake,” said Verdin.

Returning home after the warehouse, Verdin says her grief continued when her Aunt Marie contracted and died of COVID.

“Part of me wishes we didn’t put her in the nursing home because now six months later she’s gone,” said Verdin.

She says the nurses did all they could possibly do in that warehouse, now vowing to make sure no one else’s loved one goes through that.

“There’s no excuse for where we were but there’s no excuse there’s no way he can justify that… I could look him dead in the face and say absolutely not,” said Verdin.

Verdin said this wasn’t the only time dean failed in her eyes to safely evacuate the nursing home residents. She said the same thing happened in 2008 to a Winn Dixie.

Dean’s attorney says they aim to have a trial in front of a panel of judges to reinstate his licenses.

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