'Our families are dying:’ Relatives of residents at Kirkland facility share coronavirus concerns

'Our families are dying:’ Relatives of residents at Kirkland facility share coronavirus concerns
Pat Herrick holds a photo of her mother, Elaine (left) and Mike Weatherill holds a 1978 picture of his mother, Louise. Both died this month at Life Care Center in Kirkland.

At 3:30 a.m. Thursday, Pat Herrick got a call saying her mother, a longtime resident at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, had died.

The facility, about 20 miles from downtown Seattle, is known as the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. Several of the confirmed deaths had links to the facility.

“The nurse that called me was exceptional,” Herrick said. “I think this is such a bigger picture. I think it’s tragic that they don’t have the support here to do work that’s needed to be done in a good way.”

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Around 10 a.m. Thursday, Herrick received another call from Life Care staff.

Her mother, Elaine Herrick, had a good temperature, she was told. She was fine. Staff would call daily with updates.

“I said, ‘That’s bull****,’” Pat Herrick said. “My mother died at 3:30 this morning.”

The frustration and articulate anger was clear Thursday afternoon when Herrick and others gathered reporters outside the Kirkland facility. They pleaded for help. Many staff at Life Care are beloved. But they’re overwhelmed, and the reassurances that patients were safe in quarantine were false, families said.

“I want Mike Pence in that facility,” Kevin Connolly said. “I want Dow Constantine. Any of them who have elderly parents, I want their parents in that facility."

"If it’s safe enough for my father-in-law, it’s safe enough for their parents as well.”

Mike Weatherill identified his mother, Louise Weatherill, as one of those at Life Care who died from the coronavirus. He shared a picture of her from 1979 and pleaded for more help there.

Another woman, Colleen Mallory, told of her mother with dementia. She was told her mother was fine and she seemed OK during a visit, but because of Herrick’s case there is doubt about the information families are being told.

“Mr. Pence, please come and visit us,” Mallory said. “Inside.”

Connolly said he was told his father-in-law wouldn’t get a coronavirus test for seven to 10 business days.

At the rate the coronavirus is killing people at Life Care, Connolly fears his father-in-law will be dead by the end of the week.

“Our families are dying,” he said. “We don’t know what to do. Our calls for help aren’t working.”