Please support local news coverage –

Donate Here

East Providence COVID-19 'hotspot' likely lacked employees, equipment to contend with outbreak

Company operates five facilities total in R.I., including another with deceased coronavirus residents


EAST PROVIDENCE — Nursing homes around the state, including one here in the city, comprise the bulk of the COVID-19 "hotspots" resulting in a majority of those who have died due to the outbreak.

The latest reported total number of coronavirus associated deaths in Rhode Island surpassed 100, Gov. Gina Raimondo and Director of Health Dr. Nicole Alexander Scott announced during their daily briefing from the State House Thursday, April 16.

The exact number climbed to 105, with 18 additional deceased, all of whom were residents of congregate facilities like nursing homes, including Orchard View Manor in East Providence. The facility located on Tripps Lane off Wampanoag Trail has now had 20 residents pass away due to COVID-19 related complications, double the number announced from the previous day. Also, of East Providence's 159 cases as of April 16, approximately 100 were from Orchard View.

Dr. Alexander-Scott noted not all of the deaths reported Thursday were day-over-day, but cumulative, as previous tests for the virus on persons who have since passed were confirmed.

Of the 105 COVID-19 deaths in the state, Orchard View Manor’s 20 trails only Golden Crest Nursing Centre in North Providence, which has had 24. The Oak Hill Center in Pawtucket has had 18 deaths and Oakland Grove Health Care Center in Woonsocket five.

According to multiple sources, concern about Orchard View Manor’s ability to handle the crisis began almost immediately as its impact was beginning to be felt last month. It was said the privately owned facility, which like Oakland Grove is part of the Athena Health Care Systems group, had neither the number of employees nor the amount of supplies necessary to contend with the outbreak. Of note, as of April 15, 15 Orchard View personnel had also tested positive for COVID-19.

Since, sources indicated RIDOH has made the situation at Orchard View one of its priorities, attempting to replenish the PPE deficit and trying to increase staffing to acceptable levels under the difficult circumstances.

One source, who has close knowledge of the Orchard View situation and who requested anonymity, said officials "have been dealing with (Orchard View) since mid-March. They were way understaffed before this hit, and their PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) supply was only a two-week stockpile. It was a disaster waiting to happen.”

Besides Orchard View and Oakland Grove, Athena operates three other facilities in the state: another in East Providence, Waterview Villa on South Broadway; Summit Commons in Providence; and Heatherwood in Newport.

According to its website, Golden Crest is also privately held and operated by the Pezzelli Family, founded by Pat and Norma Pezzelli in 1969. Oak Hill is owned by the New York-based Centers Health Care, which also operates the Bannister Center in Providence and the Kingston Center in West Kingston. 

Please support your local news coverage

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the local economy - and many of the advertisers who support our work - to a near standstill. During this unprecedented challenge, we continue to make our coronavirus coverage free to everyone at - we believe it is our mission is to deliver vital information to our communities. If you believe local news is essential, especially during this crisis, please consider a tax-deductible donation. 

Donate Here

Thank you for your support!

Matt Hayes, EP Post Publisher

2024 by East Bay Media Group

Barrington · Bristol · East Providence · Little Compton · Portsmouth · Tiverton · Warren · Westport
Meet our staff
Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.