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A trend seen across the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic has been that, with an area of high cases, the virus will get into the nursing homes.

This week, several Dodge City-area nursing homes confirmed cases in their facilities and have stated what steps were taken once a case was confirmed, either through a resident or staff member.

Trinity Manor

According to Trinity Manor executive director Marcia Swann, Trinity Manor in Dodge City had a staff member test positive for the virus.

"The staff member had been wearing proper PPE and N95 mask while working," Swann said. "All contact tracing was done with the guidance of the Ford County Health Department and our medical director, Dr. RC Trotter.

"Anyone who had contact in the previous 48 hours was tested. Of the combined 48 staff and residents tested subsequently, all were negative. That was both a huge relief and a tip of the hat to our high standards of infection control. The precautions we’re taking are working."

Trinity Manor staff continues to wear proper PPE and N95 masks at all times while in the facility and wear isolation gowns while being tested.

"The donations of isolation gowns and staff cheer items are definitely appreciated," Swann said. "Plus, the understanding of being socially distant and not allowing visitors enables us to continue to safeguard the health of our residents.

"Whenever staff return to the facility, they disinfect their shoes for five minutes, have their temperature taken and are screened through a list of questions related to their health, exposure and travel."

Since the pandemic began, Trinity Manor has checked the residents’ temperature and oxygen saturation every eight hour shift, as well as extra alertness for any other signs or symptoms.

"Residents have been offered masks for a few weeks now," Swann said. "Residents are also encouraged to either cover their nose and mouth with a tissue/cloth or to wear their mask anytime cares are being provided in their room.

"All meals are still served privately in resident rooms and extra cleanings occur as part of our disinfection processes."

Swann went on to say that the health department and medical director have provided textbook actions in slowing the spread.

“We are grateful for their proactive leadership during this time," Swann said. "Trinity Manor consistently maintains strict standards for our infection control, as evidenced by our lack of infection control tags during the past several years of state surveys."

Kansas Soldier's Home

On May 5-6, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment sent testing kits to the Kansas Soldier's Home for employees and residents to be tested.

"The facility has identified a total of three staff members and two residents that tested positive for COVID-19," said Dave Smith, Kansas Soldier's Home superintendent. "The staff members have been out of the facility since on or before April 30, and will not be allowed to return until they have been symptom-free for at least 72 hours, and have two negative COVID-19 test results with the tests administered no less than 24 hours apart.

"The two residents have been moved to an isolation unit that is staffed by specific employees."

In that time, the staff of the soldier's home has been working to identify others that have had contact with the two cases.

Smith said that the soldier's home will continue to follow CDC, CMS, KDHE, KDADS, the VA and the Governor’s Office recommendations and guidelines that were implemented on March 12.

Those guidelines are: no group activities, no communal dining, staff mandated to wear masks, practicing social distancing, proper hand washing and sanitizing, regular deep cleaning all areas of the facility and screening of staff and residents each shift. No visitors are allowed on the property, with exceptions for hospice in certain situations.

Entry is restricted to employees, medical staff, emergency personnel and essential vendors only. Access to the facility is limited to one access point, and all people entering the facility are screened.

The facility is also offering virtual visits with residents using Skype and FaceTime.

"The facility will be retesting anyone with positive results and anyone identified as having direct contact with those that have tested positive," Smith said.

Manor of the Plains

At Manor of the Plains in Dodge City, it was confirmed an essential health care worker tested positive for COVID-19 and the employee was quarantined at home.

“Our top priority is the safety of our residents and staff members,” said Jeanne Gerstenkorn, PMMA’s infection preventionist and vice president for health and wellness. “We were notified by the Ford County Health Department that a staff member had tested positive for COVID-19. This person last worked on April 26.

"The employee passed the employee screening for their shift April 26, and was not scheduled to work again until May 9.

"On May 6, the employee was tested for COVID-19 and the positive test result was received May 7. We notified the KDHE epidemiology hotline immediately after becoming aware of the positive test and KDHE did not consider the staff member to be infectious during the last shift worked 11 days ago and recommended no further action be taken.

"At this time, no residents have tested positive for COVID-19 and the employee is recuperating at home and must be COVID-19-free before returning to work."

Manor of the Plains maintains it will continue to follow KDHE and CDC guidelines in monitoring residents and staff members.

"Families were also notified, been called to alert them to the potential exposure, and all state and county mandatory required reporting agencies have been notified," said Lisa Diehl, PMMA communications director. "The community will follow any additional guidance from the Ford County Health Department, KDHE and the CDC.

"Staff members are following CDC guidelines and best practices as these are continually updated. The community regularly reinforces with all staff that an employee should not report to work if he or she is experiencing symptoms of a respiratory illness or are not feeling well."

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According to Brookdale public relations project manager Heather Hunter, Brookdale confirmed that a member of its Brookdale Dodge City community had tested positive for COVID-19.

"Brookdale’s top priority is the health and safety of our residents, patients and associates," Hunter said. "We have informed residents, their family members and associates of Brookdale Dodge City of this matter and we are diligently monitoring our residents and associates for signs and symptoms, and we continue to work directly with local health officials to help ensure our residents and associates have the appropriate and necessary medical support.

"We will continue to follow the guidance of the Southwest District Office for the Kansas Department of Health throughout this situation."

Hunter added that protocols were in place in the event of a contagious illness occurring and they have plans in place to respond accordingly.

"Since reports of COVID-19 in the United States were confirmed, and in accordance with CDC guidelines, Brookdale has proactively implemented precautionary measures throughout our communities," Hunter said. "Our emergency response teams and experienced operational and clinical teams are working tirelessly to minimize chances for exposure and additional transmission of the virus and we are regularly providing updated information.

"We thank our staff, residents and their families for their continued understanding as we work to promote the health and wellbeing of our community members."

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