Area nursing facilities are tightening restrictions in an effort to lessen the spread of covid-19, since nursing home deaths have more than tripled across the state this month.
As of the most recent weekly data report released by state health officials Nov. 27, a total of 413 nursing home residents reportedly tested positive for the virus and 60 died between Nov.18-24. The week prior, Nov.11-17, there were 306 new cases. Comparatively, the week of Oct. 14 to 20, there were 71 positive tests and 15 deaths.
Gov. Ned Lamont expressed concerns over the resurgence the second week of November, saying upon release of the report, “Most of our nursing homes now do have an infection. Do not go visit right now. If you want to keep your loved ones safe that’s our strongest recommendation going forward.”
Grandview Rehabilitation in New Britain reported a total of 62 cases and 23 deaths before May 29, with no new cases among residents since that date.
“We’re following all the CDC guidelines, ensuring that staff is educated regarding personal protective equipment and ongoing monitoring,” Administrator Donna Stango told the Herald.
Grandview is closed to visitors, and staff have helped residents spend time with loved ones through virtual platforms.
“Hopefully things might open up a little bit in the near future” Stango said. “We’re still doing Face Time visits and Zoom visits.”
The holidays will be an especially challenging time for families who might typically share a special meal with their loved one in a nursing facility, or even take them out for a family gathering.
Ingraham Manor in Bristol, managed by Bristol Health, has instituted a Compassionate No Visitor Policy, with all family visits made through video calls.
“Despite this inconvenience, family members understand that these steps are taken for the safety and well-being of their loved ones,” Bristol Health spokesperson Chris Boyle explained. “Families have been very supportive of this policy and their cooperation is so greatly appreciated. In regards to the Thanksgiving holiday, Ingraham Manor is heavily draped in Thanksgiving decorations to keep its residents upbeat about the holiday season. Residents will once again be treated to a special Thanksgiving meal – an annual tradition.”
Ingraham Manor reported 13 cases and 4 deaths between Nov. 18-24, for a total of 53 cases and 6 deaths since last March and two deaths.
Countryside Manor in Bristol has had a total of 76 cases and 28 deaths with five cases and two deaths in the last week. Sheriden Woods, also in Bristol and also operated by Athena Health Care Systems, reported two cases and three deaths recently for a total of 92 cases and 36 deaths since last March.
“Both Sheriden Woods and Countryside Manor staff are well-versed in caring for individuals with COVID-19 and maintain safe infection prevention measures and protocols in their centers,” said Tim Brown, spokesperson for Athena Health Care Systems. “We continue to test our staff weekly and perform regular testing on residents, all while closely following local, state, and federal guidance on the pandemic. While our staff is ready and able to meet the needs of the Bristol community, we encourage everyone in our community and beyond, to do their part to limit the community spread that affects this frail population: watch your distance, wash your hands, and wear your mask. It is clear that communities with a higher prevalence of COVID-19, will have a higher prevalence in their local nursing home. We are very encouraged by the recent announcements on the three vaccines soon to be made available and will strongly advocate for our residents and staff to be among the first recipients.”
Monsignor Bojnowski Manor, owned and managed by the Daughters of the Immaculate Conception in New Britain, has reported had zero covid-19 infections in its 60-bed short-term rehabilitation and long-term care facility since the start of the pandemic.
Administrator Martin Julmisse shared what it’s been like keeping the home clean and safe amidst a global pandemic.
“What we’re doing is a lot of education,” he explained. “Having PPE available and communication with staff, residents and their loved ones. We’re taking care of the most vulnerable population; it is extremely important we keep the virus out.”
With so many other nursing facilities struggling to control infection rates, Julmisse offered this counsel: “Follow the protocols put out by the state and CDC and go a step above that.”
The Pines in Bristol reported zero new cases with a total of 38 cases and five deaths.
Village Green Rehabilitation Center in Bristol, has had two cases total and no deaths, but no new cases to report.
Autumn Lake in New Britain reported a total of 125 cases and 29 deaths with zero new cases and deaths Nov. 18-24.
Casena Care in New Britain has had 72 cases and 19 deaths but none in the last week.
Jerome Home in New Britain reported six new cases in the last week, for a total of 24 and no deaths.
The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) reported a 110 percent increase in covid-19 cases in nursing homes between mid-September and the second week of November.
“Our worst fears have come true as COVID runs rampant among the general population, and long term care facilities are powerless to fully prevent it from entering due to its asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic spread,” AHCA/NCAL President and CEO Mark Parkinson said. “Our health care heroes are doing everything they can to prevent it from spreading further, but this level of COVID nationwide puts serious strain on our workforce, supplies, and testing capacity. If everybody would wear a mask and social distance to reduce the level of COVID in the community, we know we would dramatically reduce these rates in long term care facilities.”
The AHCA/NCAL has urged Congress to consider providing additional assistance to long-term care facilities, since most of the $175 billion Provider Relief Fund provided by the CARES Act last spring has already been depleted.
The state releases new covid-19 statistics in skilled nursing facilities on a weekly basis.
By Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at email@example.com.