The state provides the first accounts of epidemics in care facilities for the elderly


On Friday evening, Georgia released the names of 47 nursing homes and other seniors’ care facilities that have experienced coronavirus outbreaks, providing the public with the most comprehensive account to date of the spread of the virus in institutions for the aged since the first reported case went public in March. 16.

The list of establishments identified by the Georgia Ministry of Public Health reflects the epidemics known as of Wednesday afternoon. By Friday afternoon, the total number of senior communities whose residents had tested positive for COVID-19 had increased to 60, highlighting the speed with which the disease is spreading in facilities serving thousands of adults. the most vulnerable in the state.

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Cases hit long-term residents across the state, with major outbreaks in settlements from Rome to Albany. But facilities in the main Atlanta metro counties – Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb and Gwinnett – accounted for half of the state’s facilities with epidemics. DeKalb is at the top of the ranking with nine establishments on the list of epidemics.
The press release did not contain any information on the number of residents of each establishment infected. Some installations have made this information public. Rome Health and Rehabilitation said it had 15 residents infected. The Pelham Parkway nursing home reported that 19 residents tested positive, with 29 more expected. The facility with the largest known epidemic is PruittHealth-Palmyra in Albany, which reported 35 cases on Wednesday, with 38 results expected. Seven of his patients died from the virus.

The epidemics have become so severe that Governor Brian Kemp has ordered the Georgia National Guard to deploy 100 members to be ready to assist the facilities where there are epidemics.


The state’s release follows a finding by the federal government on Thursday that retirement homes “have become an accelerator” of the virus. In warning of the risk, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid and the CDC offered additional advice to help households fight the spread of the disease. The guidelines call for a call to nursing homes to monitor all staff, residents and visitors with temperature controls and to ensure that all staff use appropriate personal protective equipment to help prevent the spread of the disease. ‘infection.

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In an attempt to contain the virus, the Wesley Woods site of A.G. Rhodes, near Emory University, has set up a designated area of ​​its building for residents with possible symptoms. As of Friday, the home, among the few non-profit nursing homes in Georgia, had five residents and two staff members infected.

“As soon as the residents showed symptoms, we either moved them to the area designated for isolation, or we sent them immediately to the hospital depending on the severity of their systems,” spokesperson Mary said. Olsen Newton.

The home keeps family members up-to-date by posting their numbers and updates on their website daily.

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Although federal guidelines apply to nursing homes, the state list also highlights the risk to other types of nursing homes. The list includes 26 nursing homes, 16 assisted living communities, four personal care homes and an adult day center, according to information on the website of the Ministry of Community Health.

Elderly care facilities face a particularly acute challenge with the coronavirus as they may have hundreds of vulnerable residents living in cramped neighborhoods. But identifying infected residents or staff is difficult because most homes don’t have enough tests to assess everyone, and a recent CDC study found that about one in four who have the virus can not knowing it or showing symptoms.
A house in northeast Georgia made this disturbing finding after learning that only one resident had the virus. Because the home was connected to a hospital, he was able to test all of its residents, said Tony Marshall, president and CEO of the Georgia Health Care Association, which represents 90% of the state’s nursing homes and dozens assisted living establishments.

This week’s results showed that six of the seven residents tested positive had no symptoms, said Marshall.

“This is why testing is so important,” said Marshall. “Tests have the capacity to help us with our other problems.”

Adding to the challenges, the long-term care industry has been hit hard by the national shortage of masks, gowns and other protective equipment to help prevent the spread of the virus. Marshall said some nursing homes in Georgia lost days of supplies before they ran out.

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»RESEARCH DATABASE: Details on each seniors’ care facility studied by the AJC

Genia Ryan, President and CEO of the Georgia Senior Living Association, said communities are not yet in crisis with supplies, but have been conserving them since their suppliers are out of stock. “Apparently the federal stock is going to the priority places, so it doesn’t seem to be an option at the moment,” said Ryan.

The Department of Public Health has said it will start publishing updated lists of affected facilities every Friday, and health officials and leaders in the long-term care industry expect the list continues to grow.

“Over time, I wouldn’t be surprised if the majority of long-term care communities have experience with COVID-19,” said state representative John LaHood, R-Valdosta, who runs a business. family care for the elderly. which operates five assisted living communities.

LaHood said Wednesday it had two positive cases among its residents, but both are stable, including one who is 88 years old. This happened despite restrictions on visitors and the screening of each employee at the start of each shift, but said the reality that COVID-19 can be transmitted by people without symptoms is difficult.

“He is a silent enemy with whom we are dealing, an invisible enemy,” he said.

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