coronavirus

Staff and residents of Dadeville Healthcare Center have tested positive for COVID-19.

Twenty-three of the skilled nursing facility’s 94 residents have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, which equates to 24%, according to Prime Management vice president of operations Brantley Newton.

Newton said eight people on the 133-member staff, or 6%, have tested positive for COVID-19. Those staff members are quarantined at home.

There have been three deaths of residents who had a COVID-19 positive test result.

Dadeville Healthcare administrator Lynsi Phillips said the staff will continue its course of fighting the coronavirus aggressively, something it has done before positive cases appeared in the nursing home.

“We will continue our aggressive infection control measures that includes restricting visitation, communal dining, and group activities,” Phillips said. “Our employees and residents are being screened for symptoms and will continue to use personal protective equipment. The facility is also staying up to date with the (Centers for Disease Control) recommendations and continues to follow their guidance.”

Newton said the facility is utilizing the services of an infection control consultant and the sanitation services of the Alabama National Guard and Servpro.

Dadeville Healthcare Center is a state licensed 144-bed facility which provides both long- and short-term nursing and rehabilitation services.

The Alabama Nursing Home Association said more than half the state’s 231 nursing homes have had a resident or staff member test positive for COVID-19.

“We are aware of 126 nursing homes across 57 counties that have reported a COVID-19 positive resident or employee,” Alabama Nursing Home Association’s John Matson said.

Chapman Healthcare in Alexander City is also managed by Prime Management and has had 10 deaths in the last two months and eight of whom died tested positive for COVID-19, according to Newton. Since the coronavirus pandemic started, the long-term care facility has seen only a slight growth in the number of deaths at the home. The home averages four deaths a month.

As of Wednesday, Chapman Healthcare had 34 residents test positive, some of whom were transferred to Lake Martin Community Hospital, with 10 testing negative and 16 remaining in quarantine. It had 49 employees test positive for COVID-19 with 33 safely back at work while the others are still quarantining at home.

Chapman houses 181 residents in its skilled nursing facility.

Chapman also has an assisted living facility where no residents have tested positive but two employees tested positive last month.

Studies show some who have tested positive for COVID-19 are asymptomatic. Even though staff members are screened before they begin a shift and again during a shift, quick testing is the only way to keep COVID-19 out of healthcare facilities, according to Michael Mina, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and its Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics.

Last month Mina said he believes the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is more transmissible than previously thought. Current restrictions do not allow visitors but staff outnumber residents at long-term care facilities will likely prove to be the way COVID-19 is getting into homes despite screenings, Mina said.

“I do think as many people as we can get out of these homes, (it) is probably better,” said Mina, who is also a Chan School associate professor of immunology and infectious diseases and associate medical director in clinical microbiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Pathology Department. “I think that this is an extraordinarily transmissible virus. I think it’s more transmissible than we recognize and actually preventing it from spreading within nursing homes is an extraordinary feat.”

Mina, who spoke to the media in a conference call, said additional testing is needed not only at nursing homes but everywhere.

“We have to get to an order-of-magnitude understanding of how many people have actually been infected,” Mina said. “We really don’t know if we’ve been 10 times off or 100 times off in terms of the cases. Personally, I lean more toward the 50 to 100 times off, and that we’ve actually had much wider spread of this virus than testing … numbers are giving us at the moment.”

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.