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Local Care Facilities Telling Staffers to Be More Careful

By Jack H. FarnbauchSeptember 29, 2020

Care facilities in the region are pushing their staff members to take stronger precautions outside of work, as they continue to respond to COVID-19 outbreaks. In the South Bend area, 12 facilities have had more residents test positive for the virus than the state average. Out of those 12 facilities, 9 have had more staff infected than the state average.

Leaders at some of the local facilities said they hope to continue allowing tightly controlled visitation of residents. They are also urging employees to be more careful off the job.

In early July, Governor Holcomb started mandating facilities to publicly disclose their coronavirus case numbers. By July 22, the state had added longterm care facility statistics to its Coronavirus Dashboard website.

In June, Holcomb began to allow outdoor visits at nursing homes with no new positive cases in the past 14 days. Then, in July he started allowing those facilities to have indoor visits.

The facilities are taking the staff members’ temperatures upon arrival and encouraging them to call off if they have COVID symptoms. Anne Knouse, chief operating officer and administrator at Healthwin said of her staff “They’re understanding that it’s important to think about what you do outside of work. We’re finding fewer elevated temperatures come into work and people are calling in if they’re not feeling well, and they’re seeking testing, so the system is working. It can only help the people we serve.”

The homes have plenty of personal protective equipment. The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services last week announced that nationally, new cases in nursing homes bottomed out at 5,468 during the week of June 21 but had climbed steadily back up to 8,628 cases for the week of July 19, a 58% increase that roughly parallels the rise in U.S. cases overall during that time.

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