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    Sunday, March 26, 2023

    Groton nursing home reports first cases of COVID-19

    Groton — Two staff members and two residents of the Fairview Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Care Center have tested positive for COVID-19 and are asymptomatic.

    The 120-bed nursing home, at 235 Lestertown Road, had been free of COVID-19 for the first six months of the pandemic. 

    "2020 caught up with us," Executive Director Billy Nelson said by phone Thursday afternoon.

    The home is conducting weekly testing of staff and residents. The first positive case, involving a staff member, was reported the week of Sept. 13. During the next week of testing, two residents and one staff member tested positive.  

    The two staff members are quarantining at home for two weeks. The two residents have been placed in a dedicated area that is separate from the rest of the facility and are being cared for by staff wearing the proper personal protective equipment, or PPE, and caring only for those residents.

    The facility is working with the state Department of Public Health and the Ledge Light Health District. Contact tracing has taken place, though Nelson said he didn't know the details of those investigations.  

    All employees are receiving bonus pay to let them know they are appreciated, and those who are working directly with the COVID-19 patients are receiving additional hazard pay, he said. He added that the facility has plenty of PPE, which has been in short supply in some other state facilities during the pandemic.

    Fairview had celebrated its COVID-19-free status with a parade around Father's Day in June and last week had its annual gala, where staff were recognized for their hard work and dedication during the pandemic.

    "As our communities have gotten back to school, I don't think we're surprised we're seeing some increased exposure out there," Nelson said. "That's something our communities and staff will have to continue to monitor as we try to balance reopening with safety."

    The facility, like others in Connecticut, was just preparing to open to indoor visitation. Due to the positive tests, visits have been restricted and group activities within the home are prohibited in order to decrease the flow of traffic.

    "We're health care professionals, but there's a nervous energy about this virus that's different," Nelson said. "I continue to do Zoom meetings with staff. I asked them today to maintain the confidence of Muhammad Ali with the humility of Mother Theresa."

    Fairview is not taking new admissions currently. The occupancy is down to 102 residents because the facility has given up the ability to fill certain beds so it could convert semi-private rooms to private rooms in order to keep residents safe.

    "The situation is evolving and fluid," Nelson said. "We want to do everything we can to stay on top of this."

    Nursing homes in Connecticut and throughout the country, home to many older residents with underlying health conditions, have seen an estimated 40% of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S., and 74% of all COVID-19 deaths in the state, according to Mathematica, a New Jersey based policy-review organization conducting an independent review of Connecticut nursing home performance during the pandemic.

    Mathematica's final report, with recommendations on preparing for and responding to a potential second wave of the virus, is due by the end of September.


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