Nursing home reacts after resident tests positive for COVID-19

Nursing home reacts after resident tests positive for COVID-19
Senior citizens are some of the most susceptible to COVID-19, and Alabama's nursing homes are no longer allowing visitors as a result. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ala. (WSFA) - A Birmingham area nursing home is releasing a statement, effectively identifying itself as one of two facilities with a COVID-19 case in Alabama.

Friday, Plantation Manor confirmed one of its residents tested positive for the illness. Another as-of-yet-unnamed facility had an employee test positive. Both facilities are in the Birmingham/Jefferson County area.

Plantation Manor said the resident was sent to a hospital for an evaluation and remains hospitalized as of Friday. No other details about the person were released.

“Before the resident developed symptoms, Plantation Manor had implemented safety measures to limit our residents’ exposure to visitors and contact with each other to reduce the chance of infection,” the facility said. “After receiving the diagnosis, we immediately contacted the Alabama Department of Public Health and the Jefferson County Department of Health and began implementing additional protocols to help ensure the safety of our residents and employees.”

Alabama Nursing Home Association President and CEO Brandon Farmer said both persons “are receiving the medical care they need and are isolated from others,” and added, "We hope both will make a full recovery.”

Positive tests at nursing homes are especially concerning, as COVID-19 cases have been shown to be particularly dangerous among elderly populations and those with underlying health issues.

Among the nation’s first cases of the coronavirus pandemic were residents of Washington state nursing homes where at least two dozen have died. And in Illinois, a single nursing home is reporting at 42 positive cases, as of Wednesday, with testing being done on at least 200.

ANHA says the two confirmed cases at its facilities show the process of screening staff and residents is working and that staff members at both nursing homes followed the CDC guidelines for screening symptoms of COVID-19, taking immediate action.

Residents, families and staff members were notified and public health officials were contacted, ANHA said.

Plantation Manor said as soon as testing kits arrived Thursday, it started testing all employees and residents.

Currently, Alabama nursing homes are banning visitors except in cases of medical necessity or for end-of-life situations. Those visitors, as well as all employees, but be screened before entry.

ANHA represents about 94 percent of Alabama’s 231 nursing homes. The state has approximately 24,500 nursing home residents or short-term rehab patients.

As of Friday afternoon, the Alabama Department of Public Health had confirmed 106 cases of COVID-19, but no deaths.

State officials have also opened a new, toll-free number for people who develop symptoms and need to be tested. For more on how to get tested, you can call 1-888-264-2256. This is not a medical helpline.

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