Retirement home turns away elderly man over hospital visit, citing COVID-19 concerns

Ninety-seven year old Burton Keen returned safely home from World War II. He couldn’t go home to his apartment at Riverview Retirement Community after a two-hour trip to the hospital. 

“The law is that they still have to have a plan,” said his daughter, Nancy Potter. 

She says Riverview called a few days before that trip to the ER, saying anyone who leaves won’t be allowed to return for several days due to COVID-19. 

The trip was an emergency, though. Potter says she tried to clarify before her dad left for the hospital. 

“They said well he’ll be in isolation, maybe he’ll be in the care center. But nobody said no, he can’t come back,” said Potter. 

That message changed when they returned two hours later. Potter says Riverview staff and CEO Charlie Tirrell said her dad wouldn’t be allowed back in for two weeks. 

“Charlie and the nurse claimed it was a mandate from the CDC but there hasn’t been any mandate,” said Potter. 

4 News Now reached out to the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services to ask if this was a new rule for retirement homes during COVID-19. They said no, adding they are investigating the incident. 

For now, Burton is staying with his daughter. 

The 14-day rule didn’t make sense to Potter. Riverview isn’t keeping tabs on her dad, or who he’s around. What if he became infected on day 13? 

Potter says she believes her dad would have been safer at Riverview, since residents are already self-isolated in their rooms. 

“We pay $85,000 for him to be there and get the care, and I have to say the nurses and nursing assistants are fantastic there,” said Potter. 

Burton, who is also deaf, is still adjusting to his temporary home, and would like to go back, which- right now- is the plan. 

4 News Now reached out to Riverview President and CEO Charlie Tirrell several times for comment, but he did not return calls or emails.