Family loses mother to COVID-19 outbreak at Heritage Park health care facility

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WEBER COUNTY, Utah (ABC4 News) – We first told you about a COVID-19 outbreak at Heritage Park Healthcare and Rehabilitative Services on Monday. At the time there were 23 confirmed cases. Now ABC4 News has learned that same day the facility lost a resident to the virus.

Christy Justice and Jean Brown say their 85-year-old mother Afton Krupa died of COVID-19 that day.

Afton Krupa

For 32 years, Krupa worked on Hill Air Force Base but she spent her final years at Heritage Park Healthcare and Rehabilitative Services in Roy City.

“She loved everybody. I mean she was just so generous to a fault to anybody who needed something,” said Brown.

Justice says she knew something was wrong when she visited her mom on May 4.

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“I was astounded how bad she looked, that she couldn’t hold the telephone to talk to me, verbalize anything, I was in shock,” said Justice. “I could just barely make out that she wanted me to bring the great-grand kids to see her.”

She went to add, “And then, I just thought, I’m wondering if she’s got the COVID-19?”

Her fears came true that Wednesday, just two days later when a phone call from staff.

“Basically what she said is she was a-symptomatic, so there was no problem, it’s the feeling I got,” she said.

Afton Krupa

Come Thursday, the daughters say, their mother was hospitalized with a fever.

Three days later, a week after Justice’s window visit the daughters learned they only had a few minutes to say goodbye in person.

“By Monday at 10:55 a.m. she had passed at McKay-Dee Hospital,” she said.

“What we went through and witnessed it’s just unreal. I mean we couldn’t even hug or kiss our mom goodbye because the minute they took the oxygen off, we had to go,” said Brown. “The guy, the little male nurse told me, ‘I won’t let her die alone.’ And he sat with her and called me after she passed.”

The family alleges the administration did not do enough for their mother to protect her from COVID-19. They claim the staff told them she was doing just fine.

Afton Krupa

“They didn’t protect her. At least that was what they were supposed to do,” said Brown.

In an email Administrator Jeffrey Fletcher told ABC4 News Investigator Jason Nguyen:

…we want to acknowledge the loss of the resident you mention in your email and express our sincere sympathies to the family. Losing a member of our community is painful and challenging, and we wish the family strength and grace in these difficult times. We also want to thank the family for the kind words shared about our nursing staff in the electronic obituary – we have passed them on to the team, and they were most appreciative.

He goes on to state:

“I also want to reiterate that we remain fully focused on managing the spread of the virus at the Facility, and are wholly committed to the health and well-being of the residents that we have the privilege of serving.”

Heritage Park Healthcare and Rehabilitative Services

In less than seven days COVID-19 took Afton Krupa’s life.

As the family works on funeral arrangements, they are asking other Utahns to follow the recommendations from Utah’s health officials.

“What we went through and witnessed it’s just unreal,” said Brown. “It is just deadly, I know everybody is sick and tired of it. There is no more sick and tired of it than we are, but look at the result if you don’t.”

Afton Krupa

ABC4 News asked the Weber-Morgan Health Department for updated COVID-19 tests results at the facility.

In an email spokeswoman Lori Buttars states:

“I’ve spoken with our epidemiology nurse. She says the facility, in coordination with Utah Department of Health, is hosting multiple rounds of testing and that the families and staff involved are notified as results come in. We are not providing outbreak-specific case counts. You could look at the breakdown of county cases and the daily counts on our website.
UDOH’s healthcare acquired infection team is working closely with the facility to implement recommendations.”

ABC4 News asked the Utah Department of Health for updated COVID-19 positive case results from the facility but have not heard back from officials by the time of this report.

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