Jackson County Health Department and Eldercare have been working together since the beginning of March to plan for COVID19. Information has been shared about state guidelines, CDC recommendations, personal protective equipment and staffing.
On April 6, we were notified that an employee had tested positive at Eldercare. All appropriate parties were notified – Health Department notifying the State of West Virginia Bureau for Public Health – Eldercare notifying the Office of Health Facilities and Licensure, corporate office and patient’s medical power of attorney. The Health Department immediately contacted the individual and began a case investigation. The Health Department made an inquiry with the West Virginia Bureau for Health regarding the need to begin testing all patients in the facility. We were advised, since the facility was utilizing proper protective equipment, that mass testing was not recommended by the CDC for patients that were asymptomatic. It was however recommended to begin monitoring patients and staff for symptoms. This protocol was already in place at Eldercare and they had been doing that for some time.
As additional positive cases were identified, each time the appropriate State and County agencies were notified. Neither entity was giving an order to test every patient or the staff. Patients testing positive were quarantined within the facility as per CDC guidelines and staff testing positive were quarantined to home and monitored daily by the Health Department. Eldercare has not let any employee work if they were ill or pending test results.
On several occasions the State Health Officer reached out for updates on the status of Eldercare. There were multiple discussions about patient status, staffing, personal protective equipment, etc. Proper patient and staff line listings of positive cases have and continue to be submitted to the State daily. The Jackson County Health Department also worked to ensure that Eldercare had all the personal protective equipment (masks, gloves, gowns) they needed far beyond what was supplied by the State or the Federal Stockpile.
Eldercare made the choice to test their patients on Tuesday and contacted a private lab for testing supplies. Those supplies were received Thursday and they immediately tested all patients in the facility utilizing their own staff. Those kits were picked up by the National Guard and delivered to the lab on Thursday evening. Testing of staff began Thursday evening and should conclude today.
Numbers were not hidden. In fact, the Jackson County Health Department has reported numbers daily to the State Bureau for Public Health and they have been included in the daily counts posted on Facebook. They were not however identified specifically as Eldercare patients/staff. We have never released information on any facility or the number of cases within. The facility can choose to do so; however, the focus of Eldercare was on patient care and their responsibility to keep in touch with patient’s medical powers of attorney.
Local government officials (Mayors and Commissioners) and the Medical Healthcare Coalition have been updated regularly on the community numbers and all COVID19 clusters. Eldercare and the Jackson County Health Department will continue to work together for the good of the patients and the citizens of our community.