Nursing homes continue to be an area of grave concern as communities work to contain the spread of the disease that is causing the coronavirus outbreak.
Three Crossville Health and Rehabilitation residents have died since the outbreak began while 49 other residents have tested positive for the coronavirus, none exhibiting any of the symptoms associated with the disease, including cough, fever, chills, muscle pain, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, sore throat or a new loss of taste/smell. These symptoms range from mild to severe illness and appear up to 14 days after being exposed.
Thirty-six Crossville employees have tested positive, with only two showing these symptoms, and one was hospitalized, according to Joe Perkins, a spokesperson for parent company NHS Management, LLC.
An employee of Collinsville Healthcare and Rehabilitation at 685 North Valley Avenue died on June 30. The facility has had 13 employees to test positive since March, according to Administrator James Coker. He said nine of those employees have returned following the 14-day quarantine after two negative COVID tests to confirm they no longer have the disease. Three are awaiting test results.
Coker said the staff member who died recognized having a fever and was told to get tested for the coronavirus. The employee, whose name was not released, received a positive result on June 21, his condition worsening over those nine days. Residents at the Collinsville nursing home have their vital health statistics checked multiple times daily and none have tested positive. All residents transferred from a hospital must pass a COVID test and remain in isolation for 14 days, joining the rest of the population on day 15 if they exhibit no symptoms.
Crowne Healthcare at 403 13th Street NW in Fort Payne completed COVID-19 testing of all residents on June 29 with no positive results. According to Administrator Jim Turnipseed, three employees have tested positive for the coronavirus. Employees were immediately sent home to quarantine, following to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.
He said the employees are doing well and are expected to return to work after 14 days and two negative tests. In keeping with state and federal regulations, all Crowne employees and the families of residents are informed of positive test before 5 p.m. the following day. The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and DeKalb County Health Department are notified, according to Turnipseed.
Governor Kay Ivey on Tuesday awarded $18.27 million of the Coronavirus Relief Fund to provide baseline testing for coronavirus and proactive surveillance of the virus for health care personnel and residents of nursing home facilities across Alabama.
“During the pandemic, it is critical we take care of our seniors and most vulnerable residents,” Ivey said. “Some of our largest outbreaks of COVID-19 were within nursing homes and we must do everything possible to contain the spread within their walls. Protecting these vital members of the community, as well as the dedicated staff who take care of them, is precisely the intent of the Coronavirus Relief Fund.”
Alabama received approximately $1.9 billion of federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) to respond to and mitigate COVID-19. The Alabama Nursing Home Association Education Foundation will administer the funds.
Perkins applauded the governor taking actions and offering financial support after a federal mandate to test all nursing homes didn’t happen. He said NHS has been testing staff and residents since the public health crisis started, which has a tremendous impact on operations. The company has been aggressively recruiting and has managed to fill more than 1,000 positions, including highly trained nurses who were furloughed from their hospital jobs.
“We continue to fight the coronavirus,” Perkins said. “We are encouraged that while the number of COVID cases continues to grow, death rates are going down in the population as a whole [across NHS-owned facilities]. We will have to continue these precautions until the external world achieves herd immunity or a vaccine is developed.”
In Collinsville, Coker said that within the next week, staff and residents will participate in the baseline screening funded by the governor’s release of funds. They will follow all guidelines and recommendations.
For more information on the coronavirus and how to protect yourself, visit the Alabama Department of Public Health website at https://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/infectiousdiseases/cov-faq.html. You can also call 1-800-270-7268 or email email@example.com.