It’s been an especially brutal spring and summer for three nursing homes in DeKalb County impacted by outbreaks of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. But containment efforts at the facilities in Fort Payne, Crossville and Collinsville appear to be reducing case numbers inside, even as the community spread rapidly grows all around them.
Crossville Health and Rehabilitation located at 8922 Highway 227 in Crossville has had 74 residents to test positive for COVID-19 cumulatively since March, according to Joe Perkins, a spokesperson for parent company NHS Management, LLC. Three residents have died of it, the rest recovering and returning to normal treatment. When contacted on Wednesday, Perkins said only one of these residents remains in the facility’s dedicated coronavirus unit, which is separated by a physical biohazard barrier from the rest of the building’s population and uses negative air pressure scrubbing and specifically assigned personnel wearing extra Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) who do not work in non-COVID areas.
Fifty-one employees of the Crossville nursing home have tested positive for the coronavirus since March. Perkins said 46 of the employees have passed the quarantine period and returned to work after testing negative.
Five employees are still isolating, only one of them displaying the coronavirus symptoms, which can include coughs, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, headache, fatigue, fever or chills, muscle or body aches, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
These symptoms range from mild to severe illness and appear up to 14 days after being exposed.
“Our policy is to test an excessive amount, essentially every week. From doing that, 60% who came back with positive results have been asymptomatic. If we didn’t test them like we have been doing, we would have had no idea they even had COVID. Crossville has come a long way.”
When contacted Monday, Crowne Health Care of Fort Payne at 403 13th Street NW in Fort Payne had 10 residents who had tested positive for the coronavirus and were physically separated from other residents, according to Crowne Administrator Jim Turnipseed. Additionally, 11 employees had tested positive since March, five currently quarantined elsewhere.
Turnipseed said employees are being tested every other week while residents are screened for symptoms multiple times daily. Testing turnaround time is three days, he said. He noted that hospitals are being “very protective of their ICU beds” as case numbers continue to rise across the state.
Collinsville Healthcare and Rehab Administrator James Coker said his facility at 685 North Valley Avenue in Collinsville had seen a total of 15 of its employees and one resident test positive for COVID-19 since the public health crisis began in March and 12 had completed their 14-day quarantine and returned to work. One employee died on June 30. Coker said one resident is believed to have had a false positive after receiving two negative tests back-to-back and has returned to the facility.
As of Friday, the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Alabama since the first reported case on March 13 has reached 94,827 cases with 1,674 fatalities in that timeframe attributed to COVID-19, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard. The state saw 19,231 new cases from 160,669 tests conducted in the last 14 days. ADPH estimates 745,942 tests have been done cumulatively. Statewide, 11,537 hospitalizations since March 13 are attributed to the coronavirus, and ADPH estimates 37,923 cases are presumed recoveries.
Statewide statistics show 2,306 long-term care employees and 4,323 long-term care residents have gotten the coronavirus. A total of 5,621 healthcare workers have been infected since March.
Inside DeKalb County, ADPH reports 1,771 cases of infection since March 26, the date of the first reported case in the county.
ADPH has attributed 13 deaths in that timeframe as being caused by coronavirus infection. In the last 14 days, 310 positive cases have been detected as a result of tests conducted locally.
There are no county figures for hospitalizations since March 13 or local numbers of presumed recoveries. The information is also not available at the town and city level.
For the most updated figures, visit the dashboard at https://alpublichealth.com.