Two residents of a nursing home in Taneytown have tested positive for the coronavirus, the facility confirmed Tuesday, and Carroll County also announced six new cases at a Westminster retirement community.
“Dear Lorien Taneytown Residents and Family Members: We are writing to inform you that two residents of Lorien’s Taneytown location have tested positive for COVID-19,” the April 7 letter reads, referring to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
The letter was attached to an email from Bernadette Beard, the administrator of Lorien Taneytown, according to its website. Lorien Health Services has nine locations. The company offers services such as skilled nursing, rehabilitation and assisted living at the the Taneytown location.
“Our priority, first and foremost, is the protection and care of our residents and staff,” JoAnn Presbitero, vice president of Lorien Health Services, wrote in an email Wednesday afternoon, confirming the two cases at the Taneytown facility. “Lorien continues to work carefully under the guidance of the local and state health departments, trusted medical professionals, and the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] to mitigate the spread of the virus.”
Presbitero said family of residents were notified, as well as staff who were in contact with the patients. The April 7 letter further states residents and staff who were in “close contact” with the COVID-19 patients are “following proper protocol.”
Beard did not immediately return an email or phone call Wednesday afternoon.
As of April 8, Carroll County had announced a total of 192 confirmed cases and 19 deaths. Of those, 17 deaths have been reported at Pleasant View Nursing Home in Mount Airy, one was a resident of Carroll Lutheran Village in Westminster and another was a member of the wider community. At Pleasant View, 81 residents and 31 staff members have tested positive.
Six new cases were confirmed among Carroll Lutheran Village residents Wednesday, bringing the total there to 18 residents, plus two staff members.
County officials also announced the first case of someone between the ages of 10 and 19. A total of 77 cases — up from 54 Tuesday — have been reported among people in the “community,” that is, not residents or staff of an elder care facility. Of those 77, 40 are women and 37 are men, while 14 are between the ages of 20 and 29; seven are between ages 30 and 39; 12 between ages 40 and 49; 30 between ages 50 and 59; nine between ages 60 and 69; and two people each between the ages of 70 and 79, and 80 and 89.
Elder care facilities are especially threatened in the outbreak because older adults and people with compromised health are at higher risk of death from the coronavirus.
According to the letter, Lorien is working under the guidance of local and state health departments, medical professionals, and the CDC to mitigate the spread of the disease.
“Universal masking” began throughout Lorien facilities April 2, the letter states.
Upon entering the facility, employees must have their temperature checked, and anyone with a fever is immediately sent home. Any employee with signs of illness is immediately sent home.
In addition, according to a March 30 letter from the company’s CEO, Lou Grimmel Sr., “We also diligently monitor, and if needed exclude, staff who have worked at another facility with a positive case of COVID-19. They are not permitted to come back to work until they are cleared by the local health department.”
In response to an executive order by Gov. Larry Hogan, Lorien created two new units in its buildings. Any new admission or resident returning from the hospital who is COVID-19 negative will be placed in the admission unit for 14 days and monitored.
Any resident that is COVID-19 positive within the facility or diagnosed COVID-19 positive while in the hospital and is returning to the facility will be moved to the COVID-19 unit.
Some residents may be asked to temporarily relocate to other rooms, the letter states.
Lorien residents and family members received another letter April 8, this time from Grimmel. The letter clarified that the new units were created in the nursing homes (sub-acute rehab buildings) and not in the assisted living buildings.
“Due to the dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases over the last several days, all outside providers — including hospice, home health, behavioral health, and wound care — are restricted from entering the buildings, unless it is for a true medical necessity,” the letter reads.
Protocol to be followed, according to the March 30 letter, includes:
Caring for residents with undiagnosed respiratory illness using standard, contact, and droplet precautions with eye protection (i.e. gown, gloves, N95 or facemask, and face shield or goggles). Necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) is available immediately outside of the resident room and in other areas where resident care is provided.
Restricting visitors from Lorien facilities except for extenuating circumstances such as end-of-life situations.
Canceling communal dining and group activities.
Encouraging social distancing.
Transferring residents in need of a higher level of care to another facility.
Escalating cleaning practices.
Encouraging residents to wash hands frequently.
Providing hand sanitizer in every resident’s room.
Educating residents about COVID-19.
A resident suspected of having or confirmed to have COVID-19 should be cared for using precautions such as a gown, gloves, N95 mask, face mask, shield or goggles, the March 30 letter states. A resident that is suspected of having or is confirmed to COVID-19 should be placed in a private room. Only residents or staff with symptoms will be tested.
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Westminster resident Marie Rogers looks forward to seeing her mother, Susan Gubernatis, again when the nursing home allows visitors.
Gubernatis, 74, has been a Lorien Taneytown resident for several years, Rogers said. She usually visits her mother weekly to catch up and practice piano. Gubernatis studied at the Peabody Institute and taught piano for some time, Rogers said. She still gets great joy from performing at the nursing home.
Rogers did not find fault with how Lorien staff have communicated with her family throughout the pandemic. She trusts they are keeping her mother separate from those with COVID-19.
“The staff there’s been wonderful. They’re like family,” Rogers said.
She sent her mother flowers for her birthday last month and video chats with her often.