SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — The Wolf Administration released COVID-19 case numbers at long-term care facilities Tuesday that highlighted the extent of the pandemic inside these facilities locally.
In Pennsylvania, 61 percent of all COVID-19 related deaths occurred inside nursing homes and other personal care facilities. Specific numbers were released to the public for the first time Tuesday, weeks after the start of the pandemic and after nearly 3,000 deaths occurred statewide at the facilities.
“It’s actually up to the responsibility of the facilities to let family members know about cases in long-term care facilities and to keep the families updated,” Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said.
The State Department of Health has now released the number of COVID-19 cases at all 558 facilities in the commonwealth, 72 of which are in northeastern and central pennsylvania. These numbers represent how many facilities in each county have cases which include residents and employees testing positive, plus deaths.
To view the full release and download the data, click here.
In Lackawanna County, Allied Services Skilled Nursing Center has one of the highest case-counts in the county, according to the Department of Health. Timber Ridge Health Center in Wilkes-Barre remains the highest in Luzerne County.
Levine spoke about Manorcare Health Services Jersey Shore in Lycoming County during her press conference on Tuesday as the facility has become a hot spot near Williamsport.
“We have been in contact with that facility,” Levine said. “We’re providing support and we will do whatever is necessary to help the patients and the staff at that facility.”
Eyewitness News reached out to Manorcare Health Services- Jersey Shore and they sent the following statement on Thursday:
“We have aggressively pursued and supported full house testing and work with hospitals and labs to make this happen. Something that is not being done consistently across the state or country. By testing all patients, we can address what is happening in the center as early as possible and have been able to isolate and contain the virus accordingly. With this full house testing approach, we do see more positive cases, many of which are asymptomatic but can be treated faster and keep the rest of the facility safe.
Our hardworking health care team members are committed to working through this unprecedented time. They are caring for the most vulnerable to this virus. They are not only the patients’ caregivers but also their families and friends. They are there to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and Mother’s Day. It is a difficult time for everyone. Families are not able to visit, and patients are not able to participate in group activities or dining. Our employees are now working in newly constructed isolation units, wearing full PPE, social distancing and practicing extreme hand and center sanitizing measures. When we lose a patient, we lost a family member not a case or a number. We celebrate every recovered patient.
We realize that this is a worrisome time for families especially when COVID-19 is present in a center. It is important to note that throughout our ongoing response efforts, we have remained in close communication with the families and loved ones of our residents to share updates and provide additional information, including the number of positive cases and/or deaths that have occurred in our facility as a result of COVID-19. We strongly encourage families to reach out to us to schedule a skype or phone visit with their loved ones.
We strongly urge the local communities to practice safe guidelines such as social distancing, masking and hand hygiene. This helps protect our employees, authorized visitors and any senior or individual in the community with health issues from exposure. Only these measures will keep the virus from entering long term care centers.
ManorCare Health Services – Jersey Shore’s numbers for patients is accurate on the state list (we are currently treating 53 COVID-19 positive patients in house). We are reviewing the employee numbers.
Our website has more information on the tiers we have put into place for isolation and infection management. ManorCare Health Services – Jersey Shore is a tier 3 center with isolation unit in place. We do know these systems work to contain the virus and have started to track the number of patients recovering.”ManorCare Health Services – Jersey Shore
Levine told Pennsylvanians the Wolf Administration continues to do the same with other facilities. Adam Marles, an advocate for older adults, believes more needs to be done.
“We still don’t have enough personal protection equipment, we still don’t have enough testing and we still don’t have enough funding from the state,” Marles said.
Congressman Scott Perry has called for a federal investigation of Pennsylvania’s nursing homes.