Tall Pines, Maine Veterans Home, Augusta Center for Health and Rehabilitation

As more Maine nursing homes report COVID-19 cases state CDC focuses on testing, PPE

Mon, 04/13/2020 - 11:30am

    AUGUSTA – TheMaine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported April 13 that 41 residents and 14 staff have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Augusta Center for Health and Rehabilitation in Augusta. In Scarborough, the Maine Veterans' Homes facility has likewise seen an increase in the presence of the virus, with  six staff members and three residents of the facility testing positive for the virus.

    One resident who tested positive for COVID-19 has died.

    The other residents who tested positive reside in the same wing of the facility and are being cared for there. COVID-19 testing is underway for other residents and staff.

    Maine CDC is in regular contact with administrators at the home, according to an April 13 news release.

    Elevated protective measures have been in place since the first positive test involving a member of the community. An additional supply of personal protective equipment is being provided to the facility, on top of what was sent to it in March.

    To date, Maine has had three outbreaks of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities (LTCFs), including Tall Pines, in Belfast. (Read COVID-19 cases at Belfast’s Tall Pines rise to 22; all individuals tested)

    According to the CDC, nursing facilities have been prioritized for personal protective equipment distribution from the state emergency stockpile.

    Maine CDC continues to work closely with congregate living facilities to protect staff and residents, and to limit potential spread of the virus.

    At the Augusta Center for Health and Rehabilitation, 41 residents and 14 staff members of the facility tested positive for COVID-19.

    One resident who tested positive for COVID-19 died, as reported April 10.

    Maine CDC facilitated COVID-19 testing for all residents and staff after the first case, and the state lab confirmed the additional cases in a batch of subsequent samples.

    The increased number of cases at the Augusta Center for Health and Rehabilitation will be reflected in the COVID-19 data that Maine CDC will post today, April 13, 2020.

    Maine CDC previously cited an outbreak at Tall Pines Retirement and Health Care Community in Belfast, and the Maine Veterans' Homes facility in Scarborough.

    Other outbreaks have been previously reported at assisted living, independent living, and group homes that do not offer skilled nursing care. Nationwide, nursing facilities have been common settings for COVID-19 outbreaks.

    On March 15,Governor Janet Mills and theMaine CDC recommended that long-term care providers prohibit all visitors and non-essential health care personnel, except for certain compassionate care situations, until further notice.

    Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, shortness of breath, and lower respiratory distress. Individuals who exhibit those symptoms are advised to contact medical providers before going to a health care facility. Medical providers will make initial determinations about who should be tested.

    Maine people can protect their health by exercising good personal hygiene and abiding by physical distancing to limit potential spread of the virus: Wash your hands often for 20 seconds. Cover coughs and sneezes. Stay home except for essential trips. Avoid group gatherings. Stay at least 6 feet away from others while out in public. Use phones or other media to chat with friends and loved ones rather than meeting face to face.

    The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is intensifying its ongoing work to limit additional nursing and LTCF COVID-19 outbreaks. This week, Maine CDC will, working with State licensing boards, reiterate in an email to all physicians and nurses licensed in Maine the actions that can be taken in long-term care settings to protect residents and staff.

    A special webinar also will be held for medical directors of nursing facilities on best practices for prevention and response to the spread of COVID-19.

    Maine CDC will also redistribute its "LTCF toolkit" that includes a preparedness checklist for nursing homes and other LTCFs; a LTCF respiratory illness tracking chart; guidance for nursing homes from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; and a letter that LTCFs can use to inform families regarding actions being taken to preserve the health of facility residents and staff. And, the DHHS Office of Aging and Disability Services will work with the Long-Term Care Ombudsman on facility-specific technical assistance, with a special focus on small and rural nursing facilities and LTCFs that serve older adults and adults with disabilities.