Local nursing homes say they are doing their best to protect residents

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When it comes to infection, sickness, and death resulting from the coronavirus, residents of long-term care
facilities, including nursing homes and assisted living facilities, are among the most vulnerable and have been
among the hardest hit by this pandemic.
As of last week, there were 50,775 confirmed cases of COVID-19 nationally among long-term care residents in 29
reporting states combined and 10,378 deaths confirmed in 23 reporting states.
As of April 22 in Tennessee, there were 375 total confirmed cases and 37 confirmed fatalities among the residents
and staff of 22 long-term care facilities across the state, with the worst case by far being at the Gallatin Center for
Rehabilitation and Healing in Gallatin, which has experienced 161 cases of coronavirus and 19 deaths.
None of the long-term care facilities in Carroll County were reported as having any confirmed cases of COVID-
19 and no deaths attributed to the virus.
Administrators at these local facilities say they and their staff members are doing everything they can to protect
the health and well-being of their residents.
According to Allison Maxey, administrator at Huntingdon Health & Rehab, they are screening all staff daily
before they can enter the facility, which includes having their temperature taken and answering questions regarding
any symptoms they might be experiencing and whether or not they have been in contact with someone with the
If any staff members do report symptoms or contact with an infected person, they have to get tested and receive a
negative result before they can return to work.
Maxey said they have cut off all visitation inside the facility, except in extreme life-and-death situations, and even
then, visiting family members must go through the same screening process as staff before entering the building.
All staff members must wear personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times when inside the facility, all group
gatherings and activities have been cancelled, and residents are strongly encouraged to wear masks when outside
their rooms – though Maxey pointed out that residents do have the right to refuse to wear a mask.
In emailed statements, Dareth Davis, administrator at Life Care Center of Bruceton, and Shawn Wall,
administrator over AHC in McKenzie, both said that they are also taking these and/or similar precautionary
measures at their facilities.
“As a community that cares for those most at risk from COVID-19, it’s incumbent upon us to take every
precaution necessary to help keep COVID-19 out of our facility,” said Wall, who added that AHC is fully prepared
to care for COVID-positive patients, should the need arise.
“We have been and will continue to follow all CMS, CDC, and state and local Health Department guidelines
concerning COVID-19,” said Davis.
But just guarding residents from the virus does not address the mental and emotional toll of being separated from
family and friends.
According to all three administrators, they and their staff are doing what they can to keep their residents’ spirits
“We keep a radio going in the hallways and some staff members have been dancing up and down the hallways,”
said Maxey. “We’re just trying to think outside the box.”
Maxey added that they recently purchased two iPads, so that residents can see and talk to their loved ones on a
screen larger than the typical cellphone.
“We encourage family members and loved ones to find alternative ways to communicate with our residents,
including video chats, phone calls, emails, or window visits,” said Davis. “We are glad to help coordinate any of
these communications.”
“I do think our residents have handled it well,” said Maxey, “and, believe it or not, I feel they are happy.”
As to how long the current situation will continue, Maxey said that she doesn’t foresee them being able to relax
any of their protective measures in the near future.
“I would say June at the least, possibly July,” said Maxey. “We don’t want to take any chances.”
“We will continue to take all appropriate measures to ensure the safety and well-being of our residents, our
associates, and the community,” said Davis.
“We value the trust our residents and families place in us,” said Wall, “and we will continue to take every possible
step to ensure their health and safety.”

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