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Patrick County has 10 new cases of COVID-19, with 6 hospitalized, after an outbreak in long-term care facility
Patrick County has 10 new cases of COVID-19, with 6 hospitalized, after an outbreak in long-term care facility
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Patrick County has 10 new cases of COVID-19, with 6 hospitalized, after an outbreak in long-term care facility

From the Martinsville-region COVID-19/coronavirus daily update from state, nation and world: July 23 series

Stanleytown Health and Rehab also hit with positive tests.

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More than a dozen residents of area long-term care facilities have tested positive for the coronavirus, and most of them are now hospitalized with COVID-19.

Ten new cases were reported Wednesday morning in Patrick County and related to an outbreak in a long-term care facility, the  Virginia Department of Health and West Piedmont Health District officials reported. Six people in the county were hospitalized.

And in Henry County, four residents and three employees of Stanleytown Health and Rehab have tested positive for the coronavirus, Administrator Kennedy Flynn said.

Stuart has two large long-term care facilities: The nursing home Blue Ridge Therapy Connection has 190 beds, and its neighbor and sister facility, The Landmark Center, an assisted-living facility, has 75 beds, according to U.S. News. It is not known at which facility the outbreak occurred, and staff did not answer the Bulletin’s questions on the matter.

About the cases at Stanleytown, Flynn wrote in an email to the Bulletin, “Four employees and three patients received results that were positive for the virus between July 13 and July 22. All three patients are currently receiving care in the hospital. We completed another round of PPS [Point Prevalence Survey] testing on July 17, but the results have not been received.”

“It’s heartbreaking, but I’m not surprised,” said Becky Wood Boyd of Horsepasture, whose father, Ronnie Wood of Ridgeway, is at Stanleytown. “I didn’t expect it to not ever be an issue as widespread as the virus is. I just want my daddy to be OK.”

She said she had not been advised of the positive cases at Stanleytown, but her father is not one of the people who had tested positive.

Before the positive cases were identified, Stanleytown had “partnered with the Henry County/Martinsville Health Department to quarantine and test any patients or staff members with suspected symptoms or exposure,” Flynn wrote.

“On June 22 we participated in Point Prevalence Survey testing for all patients and employees. In total, we tested 102 patients and 137 employees. All results of this testing were negative.”

Flynn also stated that Stanleytown had passed an onsite survey, called the “Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services COVID-19 Focused Infection Control Survey to evaluate our infection control processes. The survey included observations and evaluations of staff procedures and one on one interviews with our team. Due to the hard work of our staff, we are pleased to report that the survey resulted in no findings or deficiencies,” she wrote.

She outlined the facility’s safety precautions, which “followed a strict interpretation of the guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH),” she wrote. They range from the accustomed standards such as hand-washing and screening of employees’ travel history and temperature and symptoms, to monitoring residents’ temperature and symptoms at a minimum of every eight hours.

Limited answers in Patrick

Anthony Brunicardi is the lastest administrator of Blue Ridge Therapy Connection, having taken over from D. Victor Williams Jr. In response to questions from the Bulletin, Brunicardi sent a statement that did not address whether the facility had experienced positive cases, and he did not answer follow-up questions on that.

The statement said: As the number of cases continues to rise in the nation, state and county, “there is reason to believe that Blue Ridge Therapy Connection residents will be affected by the virus. We have and continue to take guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the local and state health departments. We have set up designated units in an attempt to better isolate residents who are suspected of being COVID-19 positive; those who are under observation and those who are believed not to have been exposed. We thankfully have a strong supply of personal protective equipment, and a wonderful dedicated staff. That said, the CDC and the Department of Health guidelines have thus far slowed but not stopped the spread of COVID-19. We, together with others in our community, will continue to take guidance from these agencies to combat this virus.”

Brunicardi wrote in a separate email, “We currently do not have any known positives for COVID-19 in the facility,” but he did not reply to a the follow-up question about whether residents or staff who are not there now had tested positive earlier.

At The Landmark Center, Barbara Mabe was the last known administrator, but she is no longer with Landmark, according to a woman who answered the phone and identified herself only as “Patricia.” She did not answer questions about who the current administrator is, but she said calls would be returned after a meeting. That did not happen immediately.

Coincidental timing

News of these 10 new cases and six hospitalizations in Patrick County comes on the same day that the Patrick County Public Schools Board decided to resume classes on Aug. 11 with the previously announced AABB hybrid schedule -- 2 days in the classroom, 3 days out -- and to review that concept after one month.

Their hope is to resume classes five days a week, or four days a week, leaving a day for teachers to work with the students whose families have opted for remote learning. According to Superintendent Dean Gilbert, 1,281 students have been registered for the upcoming school year. Nine hundred and thirty-two of them – 73% -- registered for the hybrid attendance model, while the rest would learn remotely.

Meanwhile there were another handful of cases Wednesday in Henry County and Martinsville, which steamed past 400 cases in Henry County and continued to grow at significant speed in both Martinsville (up more than 80% since June 30) and the county.

15 million cases

The Virginia Department of Health reported Tuesday morning there are 80,393 cases and have been 2,051 deaths statewide (an increase of only three since Tuesday). Some 7,351 people have been hospitalized. Henry County's number of positive cases stands at 413, with 42 people having been hospitalized and five deaths. Martinsville has 145 cases, 21 hospitalized and one death. Patrick County has 67 cases, and 14 have been hospitalized and two have died. Franklin County, which is also part of the West Piedmont Health District, has 132, with eight hospitalized and one death.

By comparison, Danville now has 214 cases, and Pittsylvania County has 248.

Johns Hopkins University's real-time map on Wednesday afternoon showed that cases worldwide had surpassed 15 million, and in the U.S. the count stood at 3,940,592. Out of 619,132 deaths worldwide, 142,677 have occurred in the U.S.

But back in Henry County, families remain concerned about their loved ones in facilities.

“My biggest concern is not only his health obviously but his own sanity and happiness,” Boyd said of her father. “I talked to him last week and he's not even worried about getting sick. He just wants to see his family and friends again and spend time with me and his grandbabies.

"We missed spending Father's Day together this year for the first that i can remember, and his birthday is July 31. Daddy will be 85, and more than likely I won't get to see him then, either.”

Holly Kozelsky is a writer for the Martinsville Bulletin; contact her at 276-638-8801 ext. 243.

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