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Nursing home outbreak intensifies

South Boston News
South Boston Health and Rehab, the new name for The Woodview under the facility’s owner, Ohio-based Saber Healthcare / November 12, 2020
In the past three weeks, the novel coronavirus has infected more than 150 people who work and live at South Boston Health and Rehab, formerly The Woodview, making it the worst COVID-19 nursing home outbreak in the Southside Health District since the onset of the pandemic.

The Southside Health Department is reporting that 145 persons at the nursing home facility have tested positive for COVID-19, but the facility’s management has since updated families with information through Monday, Nov. 9. South Boston Health and Rehab currently is reporting 109 cases involving residents and 42 among staff employees — 151 cases total, dating back to Oct. 23.

Emails to family members by the nursing home administration obtained by this newspaper show a consistent pattern of outreach with reports on the outbreak’s progression, but also a ballooning number of cases since the start of November. Three times over the most recent seven-day period, South Boston Health and Rehab experienced double-digit jumps in the number of infected patients: 20 residents on Nov. 3, another 25 on Nov. 5, and 26 more on Nov. 9.

In a response to questions emailed to Saber Healthcare, Ohio-based owner of South Boston Health and Rehab, Chief Medical Officer Nancy A. Istenes wrote, “The facility acts in the best interest of its residents to promote their health, safety, and welfare during this evolving crises. Since our affiliation with the facility beginning on November 1, 2020, we have had adequate supplies of the necessary PPE to meet the needs of the staff to provide care to our residents.

“We have worked closely with the Department of Health and continue to follow all necessary guidelines, including any necessary testing and reporting requirements. We have established a personalized care plan for any affected resident and have routinely updated all residents and responsible parties regarding their condition and care.”

Saber Healthcare purchased The Woodview and its sister facility, MeadowView Terrace in Clarksville, in the sale by Sentara Healthcare of its Life Care senior facilities announced in July. During the switchover from Sentara to Saber last week, telephone and internet systems were down for a short period, interrupting communications with family of some residents at the facility.

Email updates by the administration dating back to October point to a steady struggle to contain the virus, with efforts undertaken by Sentara and Saber to isolate infected individuals and seal off possible sources of contamination. Among other steps, the nursing home changed the air pressure flow in rooms where coronavirus patients are isolated, forcing air out and keeping germs from circulating within the building.

On Oct. 27, a survey team of the Virginia Department of Health Office of Licensure and Certification inspected The Woodview — the third such inspection there since the start of the pandemic, Administration Jessica Walters wrote in an email to families. “I am pleased to share that we were found to be in compliance with infection control and prevention standards,” Walters wrote on Oct. 27, the day of the inspection.

“I wish to express my sincere appreciation for the prayers offered and the grace shown in our actions as we continue putting forth our best efforts amidst these difficult and challenging times for all,” her email continued.

Despite the prevention efforts, the virus has intensified in recent days.

The outbreak at the South Boston long-term care facility has become the largest of its kind in the Southside Health District, which spans Halifax, Mecklenburg and Brunswick counties.

In April, an outbreak developed at Sentara MeadowView in Clarksville that has eventually claimed 14 lives and infected 84 persons. In the Town of Chase City, a May outbreak at Chase City Health and Rehab led to 14 deaths. A second-wave outbreak at Chase City Health and Rehab in September has raised the count of total infections there to 104.

The Southside Health Department is reporting a second wave at the Clarksville nursing home, now renamed Clarksville Health and Rehab by Saber Healthcare. Separately, the health department also is reporting eight cases of COVID-19 at Berry Hill Health and Rehab in South Boston.

The health department is updating its public reporting on nursing home outbreaks once a week, on Mondays, according to Brookie Crawford, a spokesperson for the VDH Central Region.

EmailS to family members by the administration depict a smattering of covid cases at The Woodview during the spring and summer months, expanding to crisis proportions in September and October.

The first resident case developed at the facility in late April, and in late July and mid-August two employees tested positive for COVID-19. On Sept. 11, two more residents tested positive, but it wasn’t until Sept. 30 that another resident contracted the disease.

In October, infections of employees and residents increased slowly, leading up to Oct. 23 when the facility detected its first double-digit jump among residents, 13. From Oct. 23 to Nov. 9, the outbreak has spread to 151 staff and residents.

Prior to that period, confirmed cases among the employees and residents from the onset of the pandemic in March numbered 30. That included 17 residents, most of whom developed the disease in the first three weeks of October, and 13 employees. Total number of reported infections since the spring now stands at 181, according to the nursing home.

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