COVID-19 breaking out in nursing homes

The Newton Kansan
The Kansan

On the same day the Harvey County Health Department, in conjunction with Asbury Park, confirmed a cluster of COVID-19 cases at the Asbury Park facility in Newton, Presbyterian Manor announced new positive test results at its Newton facility.

According to Harvey County Health Department director Lynnette Redington, while the county will consider moving back to Phase 3 of its reopening plan, which would restrict visitors to nursing homes, area nursing homes have already begun restricting visitors voluntarily.

The Asbury Park cluster of COVID-19 cases includes 22 community residents and eight staff members. These individuals have been isolated.

“Our primary focus is on the health and well-being of our residents and employees,” said Asbury Park CEO Don Voth. “We will continue to follow the guidance of the local health department to control the transmission of the virus, and will continue to test all employees twice weekly and monitor all residents closely. Most of the individuals confirmed to have COVID-19 are not showing any symptoms.”

Cases were identified through precautionary testing of all staff members and residents. Testing included 60 residents and 180 staff.

Asbury Park, along with the health department, will regularly monitor the health of the staff and residents.

“We have seen a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in our county and surrounding counties the past two weeks. That puts additional challenges on our medical providers and long-term care facilities,” Redington said. “Our long-term care facilities have done exceptionally well these past several months, but we need the community’s help to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

Newton Presbyterian Manor’s twice weekly surveillance testing has uncovered three new virus-positive employees and confirmed the diagnosis of a fourth employee, whose rapid test was positive earlier in the week.

In addition, two health care residents tested positive after they were administered rapid point-of-care tests when they exhibited signs and symptoms of COVID-19. This brings the seven-day total for new cases to five residents and four employees at the facility.

“As the number of cases in Harvey County sharply increases, we continue to be vigilant in our efforts to keep residents and employees healthy and safe,” said Jeanne Gerstenkorn, PMMA’s vice president for health and wellness and infection preventionist.

Three of the four employees work in the health care center, and one employee works in assisted living memory care. Residents in assisted living memory care are being tested for COVID-19 today as a precaution.

The campus conducted 106 coronavirus tests for employees, agency staff and therapists on Monday. All other tests from Monday were negative for the coronavirus.

On Oct. 23, the county identified a cluster at Kidron Bethel Villiage of North Newton.

That included six residents in health care and assisted living. Those individuals were asymptomatic and were isolated when diagnosed.

At Kidron Bethel Village cases were identified through precautionary testing of all health care and assisted living residents and staff on Oct. 19, following the identification of a staff positive case on Oct. 17. Testing included 81 residents and 136 staff. Residents in health care and assisted living had been in precautionary quarantine since the staff positive identification.

A cluster is considered active until there are 28 consecutive days — two incubation periods — without positive cases.