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COVID-19: Keeping nursing homes safe

9 nursing home residents die in Washington state
Posted at 5:06 PM, Mar 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-03 18:31:57-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The CDC has issued guidelines when it comes to keep residents safe at long-term care facilities.

Nine people who contracted the coronavirus at a nursing home in Washington state have died.

Many of the people who died were in their 70s and 80s and had underlying medical conditions.

Still, the CDC is encouraging facilities to be proactive.

Anthony Columbatto, Administrator of John Knox Village Care Center in Lee's Summit, said they're approaching coronavirus similar to the flu.

"It's going back to the basics of ensuring that everyone is hand washing, that we have hand sanitizer available for everyone and encouraging our associates to stay home if they're ill," Columbatto said.

The CDC suggests long-term care facilities do the following:

  • Post signs at the entrance instructing visitors not to visit if they have symptoms of respiratory infection.
  • Ensure sick leave policies allow employees to stay home if they have symptoms of respiratory infection.
  • Assess residents symptoms of respiratory infection upon admission to the facility and implement appropriate infection prevention practices for incoming symptomatic residents.
  • Post signs at the entrance instructing visitors not to visit if they have symptoms of respiratory infection.
  • Upon entering John Knox Village, notices are on display about COVID-19, along with a bottle of sanitizer.

Columbatto said family members who are ill should stay home.

Brian Opoka, Director of Public safety for John Knox Village, said the facility is in prevention mode and is monitoring residents for flu-like symptoms.

"If we have residents that are at that stage, we want to work with them and treat them, treat their signs and symptoms," Opoka said. "To be able to isolate them from being out in the open areas."

Columbatto said some family members have expressed concerns about the virus but wants them to be assured they're monitoring the CDC' suggestions daily.

While it's not new to the coronovirus, Columbatto said they do a pre-admission screening on every resident or patient that comes into the community.

"We're doing exactly what we're instructed to do," Columbatto said. "We have a lot of rules and regulations that we have to adhere to with our residents."