UPDATE: Residents and employees across 4 nursing homes in Taney County test positive for COVID-19

Local News
Rev Steve Heather KOLR

TANEY COUNTY, MO.– Over 60 total cases of COVID-19, located across 4 different elderly living facilities, have been confirmed in Taney County. The case count includes a mix of residents and staff members.

The following are case totals by location as of Thursday, August 6:

Point Lookout Nursing & Rehab: 24 residents and 8 employees

The following is a press release from Point Lookout Nursing & Rehab

Shepherd of the Hills Living Center: 16 residents and 10 employees

The following is a press release from Shepherd of the Hills Living Center

Forsyth Nursing & Rehab: 4 staff members and 1 resident

The following is a press release from Forsyth Nursing & Rehab

“Forsyth Nursing and Rehabilitation is closely monitoring updates related to COVID-19 and has implemented CDC and CMS recommended COVID-19 prevention strategies.

On July 28, 2020 we were notified of a presumptive positive case at our facility. We have been working closely with local health agencies, DHSS, and the CDC on this evolving situation. There are currently 4 staff members and 1 resident who have tested positive at this time. The resident is currently in isolation at the facility and the staff members are quarantined at home following guidance from the CDC, DHSS, and local health agencies to reduce the risk of exposure to others. We are taking several additional steps to prevent the spread of the virus in our community including monitoring all residents and staff for fever and respiratory symptoms.

Forsyth Nursing and Rehabilitation continues to work with Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), the CDC, and local health agencies to identify and contact residents and staff who may have come into contact with the individual while they were infectious.

No other information will be provided about the resident. We are strictly adhering to the local health agency, DHSS, and CDC guidelines and taking the necessary steps to ensure we are doing all we can to protect the health of our residents and employees.”

Lakeside Mountain Manor: 1 (a staff member)

“Nursing homes in general are considered a higher risk,” Lisa Marshall, director of the Taney County Health Department said. “When you get several of these folks together in one place, you’re really just putting up for a higher risk for the entire facility. And, of course, the staff being in the mix of that day in and day out, you just really have a higher risk facility unfortunately.”

Marshall’s department acts as a liaison once a COVID-19 positive case is confirmed. It helps makes connections with the state health department, so they can get more testing completed if needed. If any facility has questions, her department acts as a resource.

“We do act very quickly, and we take these situations very seriously,” Marshall said. “We do try to jump on this quickly, and make sure that any precautions and any containment measures can be managed very quickly.”

The Taney County Health Department is collaborating with Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services (MO DHSS) to make sure appropriate testing, health and safety precautions are being taken at these facilities. Dr. Randall Williams, Director of MO DHSS says his team has been helping Taney County with what is called a ‘boxed-in strategy.’ Here’s how it works in any long-term care facility: If one resident or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, everyone – residents and staff –  gets tested for COVID-19.

“We didn’t have that capability in April,” Williams said. “We’re now doing 94,000 tests a week as opposed to 17,000 tests a week two months ago. Even as you’ve seen our case rates rise from 200 a day to 1200, we have not seen a corresponding increase in mortality or hospitalizations or ICU beds because we’ve been able to protect our vulnerable and fragile populations.”

As part of this strategy, the Taney County Health Department has to notify MO DHSS within 24 hours of a positive case at a nursing home. MO DHSS assists the health department with testing if need be.

Another MO DHSS strategy being implemented to help seniors is identifying a COVID-19 source at a nursing home. Through contract tracing, the department finds out what was the index case, and how did it get in. Along with this, handwashing, social distancing, quarantining, isolating and wearing personal protective equipment are reinforced.

“We’ve now done that at 400 nursing homes out of 1200 in Missouri that have had a case,” Williams said. “And we found it to be very effective.”

Moving forward, Williams says the more the public can reduce community transmission of the virus, the less people there will be coming into a nursing home and infecting people.

“Try to do everything you can with visitation and staff members, raising awareness,” Williams said. “Making sure that those who are coming from the outside to interact with them are not transmitting the virus to them. That means paying attention to your symptoms, using PPE if needed, face masks, social distancing, all those public health hygiene efforts.”

Missouri’s nursing home visitation guidelines is done in phases. Once a nursing home has a positive case, that center goes back to phase one – where visitation is restricted. To learn more, click here.  

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