Christian Health Center in Hopkinsville is working to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the long-term care facility after 30 residents and six staff members tested positive for the virus.
Christian Care Communities CEO Mary Lynn Spalding said the medical staff discovered the outbreak just before Labor Day due to weekly facility-wide testing.
“We actually caught it really, really early, to the point that the people we identified with the virus weren’t symptomatic and we were able to intervene very quickly,” Spalding said, noting that most of the patients are still asymptomatic. “We will test again tomorrow, and we should get the results within the week.”
All patients who tested positive have been isolated on one wing of the facility, and the staff members who tested positive were required to isolate at home. Everyone in the facility will be tested again Wednesday.
Spalding said the health department has been working closely with staff who test positive.
“The health department follows them, and we have a nurse that works with the employee and the health department to determine when they can return to work, whether their quarantine period has ended and if they are asymptomatic,” Spalding said.
At the facility — which has 90 residents and 200 workers per shift — no visitors are allowed inside and no new residents are being accepted.
Staff are screened daily before each shift, and visitor restrictions have been in place since March, so Spalding said it’s unclear how the virus might have entered the facility.
Spalding noted the number of cases in Christian County overall is a reason for everyone to maintain a high level of caution.
According to the Christian County Health Department, the county has had 1,094 cases and 164 are active. The health department also reported two new deaths Tuesday, bringing the local death toll to 16. The latest to succumb to the virus were a 49-year-old Caucasian female and a 76-year-old Caucasian male, both with underlying conditions, according to the news release.
“When you’re in a hot spot, there’s just so many sources where people can get it from, so it is just very difficult to know,” Spalding said of how residents might have contracted the virus.
“Visitor restrictions have not been lifted per say. Initially back in March, we did not have visitor access, but we have had window visits. Quite frankly, it works really nicely because we are all ground level, so they are socially distanced and can still visit with their loved ones,” Spalding said. “One the isolation wing they are closed window visits.”
Monday, area churches and first-responders came together to host a parade and prayer vigil outside of Christian Health Center.
“We had the fire trucks and police officers roll through, and with the first-floor access, the residents were able to see it,” Spalding said. “The staff also got to see that community support. The staff is working really, really hard. They have been there day and night doing everything they possibly can to keep the residents safe. There was a lot of smiling but also a lot of tears they were very happy.”
Spalding said the staff is going “above and beyond” to maintain open communication with the families and to keep residents health and morale at the forefront.
Residents on the non-COVID wing are enjoying hallway bingo in order to socially distance, while residents on the COVID wing are continuing to participate in physical and occupational therapy.
“We have to make sure they are in their best shape medically as well because we don’t want them getting sick,” she said. “Our chaplain is also wonderful. This age group in Hopkinsville is a very faith-based community and to help them keep their spirits up is important.”
Spalding said COVID-19 has forced the long-term care industry to adapt its policies and daily practices.
“I think it has strengthened our infection control practices and our education,” she said, “so there are some positives to that, but I think as far as the (long-term care) industry in general, it has caused us to look at things in a different way. The people who come to work for us have to be even more committed than before.
“COVID is a very sneaky virus, but if we pause, we can really see the blessing in how people have responded,” she said. “I can’t emphasize enough this amazing staff has worked tirelessly to make sure these elders have gotten the care that they needed and to make sure they communicate effectively with the residents’ families.”