PLEASANT VALLEY — An outbreak of COVID-19 continues to spread throughout Pleasant Valley Manor Care Center off Sobbie Road near Liberty. As of 11 a.m. Monday, June 15, there were 66 total confirmed cases between residents and staff and three more related deaths, said Clay County Public Health Center Executive Director Gary Zaborac. The additional deaths bring the death toll attributed to COVID-19 at the facility to five.
The latest three deaths, center Administrator LaDonna Vaughan said, were reported Sunday, June 14. Of the total cases at the facility, Vaughan said more residents than staffers have been impacted. Overall, the facility, Vaughan said, has approximately 110 staffers and between 70 and 80 residents, meaning nearly a third of the facility’s residential and staff population have been infected.
The patients that died, the administrator said, had been in hospital care at the time of their deaths.
“It was a very short time,” she said. “It was days.”
“It’s really sad and unfortunate,” Zaborac told the Courier-Tribune Monday, adding he didn’t know if those who died had other underlying health factors that may have attributed to the severity of their cases, but that it is likely.
“Nursing homes have highly vulnerable populations,” he said. “You are seeing this across the country. Once that gets a foothold in a nursing home, it’s very difficult.”
“I try to keep very close contact with the families and they can feel free to call me at any time if they have concerns or questions,” Vaughan said of relatives of all facility residents. “I’d be happy to answer them.” The facility can be reached by phone at 781-5277.
Deaths are reported to health department officials, who keep record of death certificates, as attributed to COVID-19 by attending physicians or coroners, said Zaborac. Deaths from COVID-19 are reported as such if there is a contribution from the virus, explained Dr. Raghu Adiga, chief medical officer at Liberty Hospital.
Specifics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on reporting these deaths includes a seven-page report, “Guidance for Certifying Deaths Due to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID–19).” In the Cause-of-Death Reporting chapter, it states, “When reporting cause of death on a death certificate, use any information available, such as medical history, medical records, laboratory tests, an autopsy report or other sources of relevant information. Similar to many other diagnoses, a cause-of-death statement is an informed medical opinion that should be based on sound medical judgment drawn from clinical training and experience as well as knowledge of current disease states and local trends.”
Death certificate forms are fairly standardized. Part 1 includes the immediate cause of death followed by conditions that led to the immediate cause of death. Part 2 includes other significant conditions that contributed to the death but are not part of the sequence in Part 1. For the most part, COVID-19 has a role in the death of a patient in some fashion unless, in rare instances where it does not contribute to an accidental death such as motor vehicle accident, Adiga said.
Before being transferred to the hospital, virus positive residents of the Pleasant Valley care center had been isolated at the facility, where other residents with the virus continue to be isolated from those without it.
The outbreak was first reported by the Courier-Tribune after initial reports of 37 cases were made public Friday, June 5. At that time, Vaughan said 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 in a previous Courier-Tribune interview. “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 previously 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 earlier this month.
Zaborac said more testing of Pleasant Valley facility patients and staff can be expected.