18 test positive in COVID outbreak at Wheelersburg nursing home

By Patrick Keck - pkeck@aimmediamidwest.com

WHEELERSBURG — The Scioto County Health Department reported a coronavirus outbreak Wednesday morning involving residents and staff of the Best Care Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Wheelersburg.

Eighteen people, 12 patients and six employees tested positive, bringing the county total to 265 total cases and 71 active as of Wednesday afternoon. This was the second outbreak at the nursing home, the center having two more positive cases in April when there were only six active in the county.

SCHD Commissioner Dr. Michael Martin said 80 tests were conducted by the Southern Ohio Medical Center at the facility Tuesday. Using the PCR test, they were able to get results within 24 hours.

Most of the positive cases were asymptomatic, which Martin said only makes this scenario more difficult to understand.

“That’s what is scary about this virus,” he said. “You don’t know if you have it.”

Nursing homes have been considered a prime area for the virus to spread by health experts due to its enclosed quarters and more at-risk elderly patients. As of May 31, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reported that 34% of deaths in nursing homes were related to the coronavirus.

That number has since dropped to 20% in July, but rising cases has the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living concerned. Slow testing and shortages of protective gear compound this fear.

“Given the fact we are several months into the response of this pandemic and the lack of PPE supplies is still an issue is very concerning,”AHCA/NCAL President Mark Parkinson wrote in a letter to the National Governors Association. “We request governors and state public health agencies to help secure and direct more PPE supplies to nursing homes and assisted living communities, especially N95 masks.”

In a AHCA survey from June, 87% of respondent nursing homes said it takes over two days for them to receive test results from lab companies. Martin said this slow response time made it increasingly difficult to comprehend the spread of the virus.

“Sometimes you send tests off to these labs and it takes six to eight days to get those results back,” Martin said. “I want to thank SOMC for coming in and checking everybody so we could get a hold of this situation.”

PPE has remained scarce for many of Ohio’s 953 nursing homes, where the AHCA found that 15% of nursing homes did not have a one-week supply of N95 masks, 6% without surgical masks, and 9% without gowns.

Martin contacted Larry Mullins, director of the Scioto County Emergency Management Agency, to ensure that Best Care had enough PPE. From what he understands, the Wheelersburg nursing home now has adequate amounts of the gear.

The Portsmouth Daily Times reached out to the Best Care, who said they had no comment at this moment. Their corporate owner, Diversicare issued a statement Tuesday.

“We are doing everything we can to ensure we stop the spread of this within our center and our community,” read the statement. “Our infection control procedures are in compliance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Ohio Department of Health guidance. Our nursing staff is educated and understands the health care protocols for the COVID-19 quarantine and all emergency situations.”

Martin said the residents and staff will be quarantining for the next 14 days.


By Patrick Keck


Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3501 ext. 1931, by email at pkeck@aimmediamidwest.com, or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.

© 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.

Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3501 ext. 1931, by email at pkeck@aimmediamidwest.com, or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.

© 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.