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Seven nursing homes in eastern Jackson County on list of current COVID-19 outbreaks

Kansas City Star logoKansas City Star 8/7/2020 By Judy L. Thomas And Laura Bauer, The Kansas City Star

Long-term care centers and a residential treatment facility for teens account for eight of the nine active COVID-19 outbreaks in eastern Jackson County, health department statistics show.

Five of the facilities — including Independence Manor Care Center and Life Care Center of Grandview — have dozens of cases each, according to the data compiled by the Jackson County Health Department.

The information, last updated Thursday morning, doesn’t specify how many of the positive cases at long-term care facilities were residents and how many were staff members. Outbreaks are considered concluded and removed from the list after two 14-day incubation periods, or 28 days, since the onset date of the last confirmed case, the health department says.

These outbreaks, in different parts of the county but outside Kansas City, are another indication that nursing homes and assisted living facilities continue to be among the hardest hit in this pandemic.

At Life Care Center of Grandview, leadership has been dealing with the virus since testing began on June 28. Since then, 63 residents and 27 associates have tested positive and two residents have died.

“Our sincere condolences go out to the loved ones and friends of those who have died,” Ty Page, executive director of the Grandview facility, said in a statement to The Star. “Our facility is a family, and this is a difficult time for all of us. We all feel the loss deeply.”

Five residents at Life Care with the virus are hospitalized. Another 44 residents with the virus are being treated inside the Grandview facility.

“They are isolated and receiving care in an area of our facility dedicated to caring for COVID-19 patients,” Page said. “We are thankful that many of these patients are asymptomatic.”

Of the 27 associates who have tested positive, 20 have recovered. The remaining seven workers are recovering at home and won’t return until they meet guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Life Care Center of Grandview is operated by Life Care Centers of America, which has facilities in 28 states, including seven in Kansas and 10 in Missouri. Several of the centers have experienced COVID-19 outbreaks, including a nursing home in Kirkland, Washington, that was linked to at least 37 deaths early in the pandemic.

At Villages of Jackson Creek in Independence, according to the health department, the current outbreak consists of 32 cases. On its website, the facility said 12 residents are being treated. Two residents who tested positive for COVID-19 have died.

After being notified of a positive test in July, the facility started weekly mass testing of all residents and staff, according to a spokesperson for National HealthCare Corp., which owns the Villages of Jackson Creek.

“We will continue mass testing per health department guidance until we have no positive confirmations for two consecutive weeks,” the spokesperson said.

Independence Manor Care Center had 75 positive COVID-19 cases as of Thursday, according to county statistics. The center confirmed its first COVID-19 cases in mid-June, and city officials announced June 15 that 39 cases were linked to the facility. At the time, city officials said Independence had outbreaks in three long-term care and rehabilitation facilities.

The administrator of the 99-bed skilled nursing and rehabilitation center did not not respond to requests for comment.

On its website, the facility said, “We are making every effort to minimize the exposure of COVID-19 to our residents and staff.

“We have restricted all visitors in the facility, including vendors, until further notice. We are closely monitoring the situation daily and as soon as we feel the safety of our residents will not be compromised with visitors, we will lift the restrictions.”

The Groves in Independence has 51 active cases, according to county statistics. The facility, which has 400 staff members and about 300 residents, first reported a COVID-19 outbreak on June 11, when the city announced that 34 residents and staff members had tested positive.

The outbreaks at the other homes and centers, the county says, are at Hidden Lake Care Center in Raytown, with 25 cases; John Knox Village Care Center in Lee’s Summit, 16; and Cedarhurst of Blue Springs, 10. Also in the group of outbreaks is Shelterwood in Independence, described on its website as “a faith-based therapeutic boarding school for at-risk teens,” with 11 cases.

The total number of COVID-19 cases in eastern Jackson County since the beginning of the pandemic is 3,649. For the current outbreaks, Jackson County has reported 289 cases and 15 deaths.

Kayla Parker, spokesperson for the Jackson County Health Department, said that “we are not disclosing the number of deaths per facility at this time.”

Nursing facilities across the country continue to struggle with COVID-19, which has proven particularly deadly to the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.

In mid-May, Missouri announced an aggressive approach to address the spread of COVID inside long-term care facilities.

Testing guidelines changed then with an executive order from the governor, requiring facilities to notify the state within 24 hours of a confirmed case. Officials also launched a “box-it-in strategy.” That strategy recommends building-wide testing for any long-term care facility with at least one resident or one staff member with confirmed coronavirus.

Since May 21, long-term care facilities have been actively working with the strategy, said Lisa Cox, a spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. The four essential elements, she said, are testing, isolation, contact tracing and quarantine.

So far, 349 long-term care homes with an outbreak — which is defined as one staff or resident — have completed baseline testing and are in various stages of the box-it-in process. Of those homes, Cox said earlier this week, 143 have reported no new positive staff or residents in the past 15 or more days.

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©2020 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)

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