CLAY COUNTY — Pleasant Valley Manor Care Center, a nursing home facility off Sobbie Road near Liberty in Pleasant Valley, has been hit with an outbreak of COVID-19 that includes a death, according to Clay County Public Health Center Executive Director Gary Zaborac. The outbreak includes at least 37 cases confirmed by the public health center Friday, June 5, with more case reports expected.

“At this point, it is too early in the process to know exactly how the outbreak started,” said Zaborac. “We are in the beginning stages of the investigation.”

Care center Admini-strator LaDonna Vaughan told the Courier-Tribune Monday, June 8, there are roughly 49 cases she knows of at the facility between residents and staff and that she was first alerted to a staff member testing positive for coronavirus May 28.

“From that point on, we initiated doing mass testing on every one of our residents and everyone on our staff because we are starting to see a lot of asymptomatic positives,” the administrator said. “All but two or three of our residents, I believe it was three, have not even had symptoms. I think I had four staff members had symptoms, but the remainder are asymptomatic.”

Vaughan said all positive employees are not working at the facility and are isolated in their own residences.

“They will not be coming back until they’ve had two negative tests,” she said.

If she had known an employee was showing symptoms, Vaughan said, she would never have allowed the employee to work without being cleared by testing.

Residents infected with COVID-19, the facility administrator said, have been readjusted in the facility’s living quarters and isolated so those without the virus are separated from positive residents. Residents, she said, are being tested weekly.

A relative of a resident at the Pleasant Valley center told the Courier-Tribune via email weekly updates about the facility sent to her family are concerning because they lack details about the outbreak.

Vaughan said staff typically call the main contact listed on a resident’s file and rely on that point of contact to share further information with other relatives.

“What we’re using is an automated system with voicemail message. I will have to say, as far as I am aware, we’ve contacted everyone. We are also going to try and improve how we give out that information,” the administrator said. “When this all came about on Friday morning, probably the information was not as detailed as I would have liked, but it was such an involved day of moving everyone around that maybe we knew what was going on, but did not make that as clear (for others) as we needed to.”

Vaughan called the outbreak is “heartbreaking, trying” and a situation she and her staff are trying to navigate while providing the best care possible in as transparent a manner as possible.

“We are doing everything we know how to do. I have outside resources as well. My staff has been amazing. The ones that are here are coming in and working extra and doing anything we’ve asked them to do,” she said, adding she is sorry if some families feel communication from her facility has been inadequate.

“Most of the families have been very understanding and I do apologize to any family that doesn’t feel like they got all of the information they needed,” she said. “I hope they feel free to contact me at any time.”

Vaughan said the facility is working with the county public health center, state public health agency and within Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to contain and prevent the spread of the virus as best the facility can, adding measures to try and help prevent the spread and alert the facility to a potential problem have been in place and ongoing since March.

Safety measures include all employees wearing masks and employees having their temperatures taken when they arrive for work and when their shifts end.

“We are making every effort to minimize the exposure of COVID-19 to our residents and staff. Our utmost concern is for the health and well-being of each of our residents and to ensure our staff is healthy and able to continue to care for residents,” reads a statement on the care facility’s website, pleasantvalleymanormo.com, about visitor limitations that were previously put in place at the facility. “With all of the directives from the CDC, the CMS, the state health department, state government and the federal government, we have restricted all visitors in the facility, including vendors, until further notice. We are closely monitoring the situation daily, and as soon as we feel the safety of our residents will not be compromised with visitors, we will lift the restrictions. The only exception with this restriction will be in the case of end of life care.”

Managing Editor Amanda Lubinski can be reached at amanda.lubinski@mycouriertribune.com or 903-6001.

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