AVON LAKE, Ohio — The first case of a COVID-19 cluster in a Lorain County nursing home has been reported on Thursday.
There are at 17 confirmed cases of coronavirus at the Main Street Care Center in Avon Lake. Main Street Care Center is a for-profit facility of Sprenger Health Care Systems.
State health officials say there are now 334 confirmed COVID-19 cases in nursing homes across Ohio.
However, a vast majority of those homes are not being identified by health officials, who cite patient privacy concerns as a reason for refusing to release only the name of impacted facilities.
In a statement, Main Street Care Center says it has notified all resident responsible parties, and continues to update them daily. The facility "is utilizing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), isolated positive cases on a separate quarantine unit, and has set up a specific facility team that will only be caring for COVID-19 positive cases."
According to Lorain County Public Health Commissioner Dave Covell, his office has been preparing for the possibility of a cluster of cases at nursing homes.
"A few months back when this first started rolling our way we actually talked with all the long term care facilities and said 'hey you need to be prepared to not let people into your facility because that day is coming and if you do start having symptomatic people, to have a tag team and isolate and try to make sure it doesn't spread thru the facility.' That's even when they're symptomatic, not just when they become positive," Covell told 3News Investigator Rachel Polansky.
News of the cluster is unsettling for some families, who have been prohibited by government shutdown orders from visiting patients inside nursing homes and long-care nursing facilities across the U.S.
Elderly people, especially those with pre-existing health concerns, are especially vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus and account for a majority of the 15,000 Americans who have died.
"I have family out of town that I have to answer to. They are worried sick," said Sam Hemoud, whose 75-year-old father lives inside the 120-bed Main Street facility.
Hemoud wants to be informed on how Main Street is dealing with the cluster.
"I need to know, are you doing the right things?" he said. "Do you have the right resources? Are you working with the right people? Tell us yes or no. If it's no, it's OK. [But] what's the time table?"
Prior to their first positive case, Main Street says it began taking proactive actions to limit the spread of coronavirus well before Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine issued the first "Stay-At-Home" order on March 23. On March 10, Main Street said it implemented its emergency response and prevention plan, including:
- Screening and monitoring residents and staff for signs and symptoms of COVID-19
- Continually updating the educational information provided to staff, residents, and family from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO), which is an important defense to preventing the spread of COVID-19
- Maintaining appropriate staffing to maintain the environment of care.
On March 11, Main Street began prohibiting visitors, including family members, from its facilities to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Staff and approved visitors such as first responders and critical delivery professionals are required to have their temperature taken and to answer a questionnaire before being allowed in the buildings.
Last week, a long-term care facility in Portage County reported that it was dealing with a cluster of coronavirus cases. At least 10 residents and four staff members at Anna Maria of Aurora tested positive, officials confirmed. One of those patients, an 85-year-old with "significant health conditions" later died at a local hospital.
ManorCare in Parma was also dealing with several cases of COVID-19. Again, health officials have not released details on the breakout.
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