An Alabama nursing home has announced that five residents of its Montgomery facility have tested positive for COVID-19, becoming one of at least 31 other nursing facilities in the state with confirmed coronavirus infections.
Capitol Hill Healthcare says that it learned that one of its residents tested positive for the virus in late March after being admitted to a local hospital. The company says it immediately stepped up its safety precautions for residents and staff and sought testing for other residents of the facility.
The tests showed that four additional residents were infected with coronavirus.
“Those affected individuals are in isolation and receiving the best possible medical care. Our thoughts are with them and their loved ones at this time and we hope for their complete recovery,” the nursing home said in an April 7 statement.
Capitol Hill Healthcare said that it notified the Alabama Department of Public Health about the outbreak and has alerted its residents, families, and staff. The nursing home is currently working with the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to implement additional preventative interventions.
Over the weekend, another Montgomery nursing home, Hillview Terrace, said that one of its residents had tested positive for COVID-19. The nursing home says that it is closely monitoring its residents and checking for symptoms of the virus multiple times a day.
According to the Alabama Nursing Home Association, 31 of its member facilities have reported cases of coronavirus as of April 6. The cases are spread out across nursing homes in 17 counties and include infections in both patients and staff members.
ANHA President & CEO Brandon Farmer said that Alabama nursing homes are doing “everything they can to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and treat those who are diagnosed with the virus.”
“I predict the number of nursing homes with cases will grow as more tests are administered and the results are returned,” Mr. Farmer said.
The news comes as both state and federal officials brace Americans for what could be a drastic escalation in the number of confirmed coronavirus and deaths. As of April 7, there were 374,329 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and 12,064 fatalities.
The Life Care Center of Kirkland in Seattle, Washington, became the first nursing home facility to report a coronavirus case among its patients in early February. By March 10, one-third of its 180 staff members tested positive for the virus and were placed under quarantine. Eleven days later, 35 deaths were linked to the facility and the toll continues to rise.
The CDC is currently facing pressure from some Democratic members of Congress to begin taking a formal toll of COVID-19 cases in nursing homes nationwide. Although no formal reporting system is in place, on March 23 the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services calculated that 146 long-term care facilities across the country had confirmed coronavirus cases. One week later, the CDC told NBC News that more than 400 facilities were grappling with outbreaks – an increase of 172 percent.
Alyssa Baskam, who works in Beasley Allen’s Atlanta office, represents individuals who have been injured or the families of those who have died as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect, or other inpatient facility abuse or neglect. She is staying informed about how COVID-19 is impacting nursing homes nationwide. It is a most challenging and unusual situation for patients and caregivers, with most facilities locked down and visitors prohibited.