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Virus hits nursing home, but mainly staff

Staff writer

A COVID-19 outbreak at Goessel’s Bethesda Home hit only three residents while the other nine victims were staff members.

The nursing home is included on the Kansas Department of Health’s COVID-19 website as the scene of an active cluster, but could be removed next week.

A cluster is defined as a location having five or more cases diagnosed within 14 days.

CEO Sara Hiebert said in an email that the facility, licensed for 45 nursing home residents and 10 assisted living residents, was first notified Oct. 4 that one of its 108 employees tested positive. The staff member was put into isolation.

Testing protocols from KDHE, Marion County health department, and Bethesda’s medical director were put into effect immediately.

On Oct. 12, two more staff members tested positive.

Six additional staff members and three residents tested positive Oct. 14, she said. None were showing symptoms of the virus.

The residents were moved to the nursing home’s COVID unit and staff members were sent home.

Testing was done again Oct. 23, with all test results negative.

All residents and staff will be tested again this week and if all again test negative, the nursing home will be considered COVID-free, Hiebert said.

“Currently, every resident and staff at Bethesda is healthy and happy,” Hiebert said. “No one has any signs of COVID.”

Until the nursing home is cleared, with no one testing positive, visitation is limited to compassionate care visits only.

A compassionate care visit is when the resident is in the final stage of life or needs assistance that cannot be given by staff, such as being persuaded to eat or drink.

“We hope to start scheduled visits again soon,” Hiebert said.

Staff will continue to be given surveillance testing.

“All residents continue to be on precautionary isolation,” she said. “Residents are eating in their rooms and activities are done one-to-one or through our own private television station. Bethesda Home has worked very hard to keep all of our residents and staff healthy and well and we are very thankful that if we have had to experience positive cases in our building that they have all remained healthy, showing no signs of COVID.”

Marion County Health Department did not disclose information about the cases at Bethesda in its daily COVID reports.

Health department administrator Diedre Serene said that if long-term care facilities, schools, and other organizations chose to notify the public they were deemed a cluster, she advises them to appoint a public information officer to disclose the information.

“They know usually before we do,” Serene said. “Most of the time when it’s contained, I think that’s up to the facility to get the word out.”

Last modified Oct. 29, 2020

 

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