By Ray Rivera | April 21, 2020 at 7: 21 PM EDT – Updated April 21 at 11: 20 PM
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) – State health officials say a facility in Hanahan has the most confirmed cases of COVID-19 for nursing homes in South Carolina.
The Heartland Health and Rehabilitation Care Center, a nursing home on Eagle Landing Boulevard, was listed at the top with 57 cases.
The information was released Tuesday night by officials with the Department of Health and Environment Control in a report on COVID-19 cases in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
The data included a list of facilities throughout the state which included confirmed number of cases for “residents and/or staff.”
Heartland was at the top of the list followed by Midland Health and Rehabilitation Center in Columbia with 29 cases, and Greer Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Greer with 22 cases.
Lowcountry facilities also listed were Harmony at Wescot in Summerville, Beaufort Nursing and Rehab, White Oak Manor Charleston INC, and Tidelands Waccamaw Encompass Health in Murrells Inlet, all of which reported 1 case each.
A spokesperson for HCR Manor Care said the Heartland Health and Rehabilitation Care Center began putting precautions in place like monitoring for symptoms of all people when the virus reached the United States. In early March, officials said they added more precautions which included eliminating group activities and visitors except for end of life circumstances, and have implemented additional precautions.
“We communicate directly with employees, patients and their families if they are affected or if there is a risk of exposure in our facility,” Heartland officials said. “This information is constantly changing and for us to report that information publicly may just add concern and fear rather than allay it.”
Heartland officials said they are in the process of contacting families with additional information, and doing everything they can to minimize risks associated with COVID-19 in their facility.
DHEC said they released Tuesday’s reports “to better define the scope” of COVID-19 cases within the state’s nursing homes and similar facilities.
According to state health officials, the spread of respiratory illnesses like COVID-19 is common in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and similar congregate facilities due to shared living and dining areas as well as limitations for social distancing.
“This virus is taking its toll on those most vulnerable to it, including our friends and family who reside in nursing homes and assisted care facilities,” said Dr. Joan Duwve, DHEC Public Health Director. “Around the country, nursing homes and similar facilities have been challenged to implement unprecedented safety precautions while also providing important care to their residents.”
On March 13, Gov. Henry McMaster issued an executive order that stopped public visitation to these types of facilities in order to help protect the vulnerable population of residents, the staff who care for them, and outside visitors.
State officials said they plan to provide early next week the number of COVID-19 related deaths associated with these facilities as well.
“DHEC is compiling and verifying this information to help present a fuller picture of COVID-19’s impact on these types of congregate facilities,” state officials said.
HCR Manor Care released the following statement regarding the COVID-19 cases at Heartland Health and Rehabilitation Care Center:
When we first realized that the novel Coronavirus reached the United States earlier this year, we began putting precautions in place such as checking and monitor for symptoms of the novel Coronavirus for all visitors, patients and employees. Then on March 14, we added more precautions such as eliminating group activities and most visitors except for end of life reasons. We also implemented universal masking of our employees.
The Department of Health notified Heartland Health Care Center – Hanahan, a not-for-profit, mission-focused skilled nursing and rehabilitation center, that we have confirmed positive cases of the novel Coronavirus. We know that the frail and elderly are especially susceptible to this virus. That’s why we are in close communication with our local health department, CDC and CMS to ensure we have the latest information and resources available. The health and well-being of our patients and employees remains our top priority.
We have taken significant additional precautions to minimize risk to patients and employees and have had systems and processes in place to help reduce the risks associated with the novel Coronavirus. We have precautionary measures designed to protect the safety and health of patients, employees and authorized visitors. We are:
- Holding new admissions.
- Taking regular symptom and temperature checks of all residents. We have reduced our temperature threshold to 99 degrees so we can address any change in condition rapidly.
- Increased our sanitizing and cleaning processes.
- Reviewing all inventory for personal protective equipment, such as masks and gowns, and educating staff on proper use and disposal.
- Working with the Department of Health, CDC and the community to minimize any additional risk.
- Staying connected with families.
- Regular updates and in-servicing of our care team.
- Working with supply chain to ensure we have the appropriate PPE supplies.
Our precaution measures include creating an Airborne Isolation Unit (CAIU) as part of our infection control and treatment plan. This means:
- We will designate an isolation unit for patients who meet our isolation criteria (higher risk patients).
- The unit will have barriers installed to protect other residents and employees and keep higher risk patients in a focused treatment area.
- We will have personal protective equipment dedicated to this unit.
- As much as possible, we will have dedicated staff on the unit in CDC-approved Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This means respiratory masks, gowns, face shields or goggles and gloves.
- Special cleaning, disposal, laundry and sanitizing measures will be enforced.
Whether we have a novel Coronavirus positive case, can get tests, are waiting for test results or have patients who may need additional monitoring, we manage the risk at the same level of intensity and commitment by adding enhanced monitoring and screening as well as putting into place isolation practices for patients or quarantine for employees.
We communicate directly with employees, patients and their families if they are affected or if there is a risk of exposure in our facility. This information is constantly changing and for us to report that information publicly may just add concern and fear rather than allay it. We are happy to address any concerns or questions employees, patients and families have directly with them. Since CMS is allowing us to release more information, we are in the process of contacting families with additional information. We will then keep this information updated on our website.
We are doing everything we can to minimize risks associated with the novel Coronavirus in our facility. We are in very close communication with our medical director, clinical support team, and local and state health officials about the appropriate steps to serve the best interests of our patients, employees and visitors. We are instructing our staff and patients to follow the recommended preventative actions. We appreciate the Department of Health’s support in identifying and addressing this issue as well. We continue to take every precaution to prevent the spread of the infection and keep families informed.
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