Wednesday, April 24, 2024

COVID cases spike at Silver Valley nursing home

Hagadone News Network | August 25, 2020 1:00 AM

Five confirmed deaths at Mountain Valley of Cascadia

KELLOGG — The latest weekly report on long-term care facilities in Idaho shows a large increase in COVID-19 positive residents/staff and deaths at Mountain Valley of Cascadia in Kellogg.

According to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare on Aug. 21, Cascadia reported a total of 74 confirmed and/or probable cases among residents and staff at Cascadia and five deaths. These five deaths account for nearly half of the recorded deaths in the county.

The number of cases that are currently active at the facility was not revealed in the report.

Panhandle Health District reported on Monday that Shoshone County has had a total of 182 confirmed (82 active) cases and 11 virus-related deaths.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, those who fall into the “at-risk” category, which includes the elderly and/or individuals with preexisting conditions, have been the most vulnerable to the virus.

Idaho Division of Public Health statistics show that of the 314 total COVID related deaths in the state, 93.7% of them were individuals at or over the age of 60.

As of Friday, Good Samaritan Society in Silverton showed a total at 10 confirmed and/or probable cases and Pacifica Living Center in Pinehurst had seven.

Good Samaritan administrator Michael Neubauer clarified that all of his facility’s positive cases have belonged to staff members and only one of them is currently active.

“We (are communicating) with our residents’ families on a regular basis to keep them informed on our current situation,” he added.

The Shoshone News-Press could not reach management at Pacifica to clarify its numbers or receive comment.

When it comes to the method of testing for the virus at these facilities, Shoshone Medical Center’s Dr. David Lawhorn explains that the decision is made by each facility individually with the help of PHD. Both Pacifica and Cascadia are currently conducting testing of all staff and residents who may have been exposed, while Good Samaritan is only testing residents who are showing symptoms of the virus.

At the Silver Valley’s hardest-hit facility, steps are being taken by staff to limit exposure and treat the infected.

Steve LaForte, director of strategic operations for Cascadia Healthcare, explained the facility’s leadership is communicating regularly with the health department to validate implementation of the most current Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) directives.

“There is daily and weekly communication with the residents, families and staff about changes and/or updates,” he said. “When we have a positive test from exposure either inside or outside the facility, we test either the wing where that person was or the entire facility based on exposure. New residents are placed under observation and quarantine for 14 days. The admission process is currently suspended to focus staffing efforts on caring for our current residents.”

When a resident does test positive, they are placed on contact precautions in private rooms or in a “COVID-only” unit with dedicated staff. Employees who test positive with symptoms are sent home for self-isolation and treatment. If they are asymptomatic, they are allowed to work in the COVID-only unit.

LaForte was appreciative of local medical leadership for being proactive in ensuring that PPE has been available to manage the facilities’ needs. While Cascadia currently has adequate supplies of reusable gowns, disposable gowns and medical masks — maintaining continued supplies at affordable costs is both a concern and an ongoing challenge.

“In the midst of managing care for each individual resident, we continue to experience extreme external challenges,” he said. “Our staffing costs continue to increase, as there is a need for more staff, and there are risks involved as we look to hire and align with CDC guidelines. Additionally, in order to properly staff, we have to utilize agency/contract staff, which comes at a higher cost.”

He added, “caring for each patient safely and carefully takes more time in this pandemic, related to putting on and taking off PPE when tending to residents, increase in supportive direct care, thorough cleaning and disinfecting, development of contained units and helping to avoid employees burning out.”

Cascadia’s 74 confirmed cases are the fifth highest of any nursing facility in the state, trailing only behind Caldwell Care of Cascadia (106, 12 deaths), Garden Plaza of Valley View in Boise (89, 6), Copper Springs in Meridian (86, 15) and Life Care of Boise (75, 6).

In Kootenai County, the most COVID-affected nursing facilities include Ivy Court in Coeur d’Alene (56, 9), The Bridge in Post Falls (19, 0), Life Care of Post Falls (9, 0) and Guardian Angel Homes in Post Falls (8, 3).

Based on positive test numbers across the Idaho Panhandle decreasing, Dr. Lawhorn is happy to see things trending down — even though Shoshone County may not be following suit just yet.

“It hit here a little bit later, so we’re behind the timeline of other regional locations,” he explained.

With Labor Day weekend on the horizon, Lawhorn believes that Shoshone County could have another spike in cases in mid-September if non-residents flood the area like they normally do around this time of the year.