Nursing homes, long-term care facilities respond to delta variant spread

Published 2:51 pm Tuesday, August 3, 2021

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NATCHEZ — Miss-Lou area nursing homes are taking precautions in light of the COVID-19 delta variant spreading throughout the area.

Jeff Phillips, administrator at the Adams County Nursing Center, said the facility continues to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for visitors, residents and employees.

“We currently are offering visits with families from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.,” he said. “They have to come in and do health screenings and health checks and then visit their loved ones. We aren’t allowing groups to come walk through the facility at this time. We currently do not have cases in our building and we’ve been blessed not to have a positive resident in the building since June of last year.”

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Phillips said staff are not required to be vaccinated. However, unvaccinated employees are tested weekly for COVID-19 as mandated by the state health department and all must wear masks.

Lisa Welch, acting administrator at Magnolia Village on Highland Boulevard, said its procedures are “close to normal” with all of their residents fully vaccinated as well as almost all of their employees.

“All of our elders are vaccinated and all of our care partners except three are vaccinated and those three are working to get vaccinated,” she said. “We’re very proud of our vaccination rate. Where most care facilities are at around 40 percent vaccinated, we’re almost at 100 percent.”

Welch said vaccinated family members can still visit their loved ones in their rooms and there is a special area of the facility set up with Plexiglass for non-vaccinated visitors.

Sanitizing with a fogging machine is a daily practice at the facility in an effort to keep everyone safe, she said.

A spokesperson for Glenburney Health Care Center in Natchez who answered the telephone Tuesday morning said the facility is currently not allowing visitors because of COVID-19 in our area.

Michael C. Crump, a manager at Glenburney, said he could not answer questions and referred questions to a spokesperson at the facility’s corporate owner.

Neither Crump not anyone with Glenburney’s parent company, would say whether the facility has a COVID outbreak at present.

The Mississippi State Department of Health on Monday reported 108 current COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes in the state.

This includes one current outbreak at a long-term care facility in Adams County, according to data from MSDH.

The health department does not identify specific nursing homes associated with outbreaks due to the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), said Liz Sharlot, director of communications for MSDH.

A long-term care facility outbreak is defined by MSDH as one or more cases among residents or staff at facilities which are considered high risk locations because residents are generally older or have health conditions that put them at risk.

The total number COVID-19 incidents in long-term care facilities in Adams County since the start of the pandemic stands at 83 cases and 17 deaths as of Monday.

The total is up from a total of 72 cases and 15 deaths reported in January of this year, according to MSDH records.

Current guidance from the state recommends anyone employed at a long-term care facility or who intends to visit one should be vaccinated against COVID-19 and anyone who is unvaccinated should wear a mask at all times when inside the facility.

Do not visit these facilities if you feel ill or have recently been exposed to someone with COVID-19, MSDH states. Visitors should see family members only and avoid contact with other residents.

Safety practices are also being implemented at care facilities across the river.

Bertha King, a certified nursing assistant and activities director of Camelot Leisure Living in Ferriday, said since the COVID-19 pandemic, the facility has cancelled all regular visitation hours and have gone to scheduled visits only.

Camelot has created a booth outside the facility, similar to a phone booth where they can safely shield the resident behind Plexiglass so they can visit with their family and friends outside, King said.

Employees are also required to wear masks every day, she said.

“We ask visitors to call today — 24 hours ahead of when they plan to visit — and we’ll get you a visit the next day,” she said.