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Ohio Attorney General says search warrant at assisted living center is COVID-19 related

A spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost told 10 Investigates that the search warrant was executed after that office received a complaint about Bickford of Worthington Assisted Living and Memory Care.

WORTHINGTON, OH (WBNS) – The Ohio Attorney General’s office has acknowledged that the search warrant it served Tuesday on an assisted living center is part of a COVID-19-related investigation.

A spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost told 10 Investigates that the search warrant was executed after that office received a complaint about Bickford of Worthington Assisted Living and Memory Care.

10 Investigates also sought a copy of the complaint from the Ohio Department of Health, but a spokeswoman for that agency said its complaints are confidential and not subject to the state’s open records laws.

On Tuesday, agents from the Ohio Attorney General’s office spent several hours both inside and out of the assisted living and senior care facility – removing boxes worth of materials and interviewing people. It was not clear what those people told investigators.

10 Investigates also snapped a photo of an agent carrying out a computer tower. He appeared to be coming from the facility’s memory care unit.

The facility has posted to its website that it has had three coronavirus cases and two active cases.

But back on April 22, information posted to the Ohio Department of Health’s website dedicated to long-term care facilities showed that Bickford of Worthington had nine coronavirus cases. The week before that, the facility was not on ODH’s website.

In a video message posted to the facility’s website, owner Andy Eby said:

“We feel a responsibility to be straight forward in our approach and that’s why we’ve made this information readily available online,” Eby said in the video.

“It’s so much bigger than just us at Bickford. We are all at risk as this virus starts to spread across this country. As the leader at Bickford Senior Living, I wish I could promise you that all those within our care are shielded from this pandemic. Unfortunately, I cannot.

What I can promise you is this, I can promise you that we will lead with transparency so that you can make the best decisions for your loved one.”

On Wednesday, the facility’s website showed it was updated May 5 but a spokesman said Thursday morning that the video posted by Eby was uploaded in April.

On Tuesday, a spokesman for the Bickford of Worthington Assisted Living and Memory Care released the following statement to 10 Investigates – saying they were unaware of why the Ohio Attorney General’s office was at its facility:

“At this point, we are unaware of why authorities came to our Worthington branch today. We have cooperated fully with their requests for information. We look forward to learning more from them as to what they are looking for and why. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Bickford has been a model of transparency. Most importantly, we will continue to provide the high level of care for our residents that we have become known for.”

Around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, a spokesman for Bickford provided this statement to 10 Investigates:

“We want to make it clear that we applaud what Attorney General Dave Yost is doing. We are aligned with his desire to ensure that our senior citizens have the best care possible. That is why we are fully cooperating with the Attorney General and his investigators. We have led and continue to lead with transparency.

On April 1st, we began providing the number of all confirmed COVID positive resident cases on our branch websites and the State of Ohio, Ohio Department of Health.

We have followed all CDC guidelines, state of Ohio guidelines and local health department guidelines including proper PPE for our staff. When COVID cases are diagnosed, we immediately quarantine that resident.

Again, we applaud the Attorney General’s mission to make sure Ohio’s senior living facilities are providing the best care possible. At Bickford, we have been focused on doing that since we opened our first branch in 1992.”

If you have information you’d like to share with 10 Investigates, you can email us at 10investigates@10tv.com or reach Chief Investigative Reporter Bennett Haeberle at bennett.haeberle@10tv.com

UPDATE: This update corrects the sentence about Eby’s video message.