Local nursing homes take precautions against spread of coronavirus

Published 8:03 pm Friday, March 13, 2020

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VALLEY — Nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the Valley area are taking precautions to protect elderly residents who are at risk due to the spread of COVID-19, commonly known as the coronavirus.

No visits are currently being allowed at the EAMC-Lanier Nursing Home. 

“All residents of our nursing home are at risk,” said Administrator Alison Yarbrough. “To be admitted here, they have medical conditions that make them especially vulnerable to contagious illnesses such as the coronavirus. It’s because of this we are screening all employees who enter the nursing home. We are taking every precaution we can to protect our elderly population.”

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Employees who leave for a lunch break are screened when they return. The EAMC-Lanier Nursing Home has a total of 93 residents and 84 employees.

While there’s no testing for the coronavirus at the EAMC-Lanier emergency room, the hospital is following the recommendations of the Alabama Department of Public Health.

While no one has yet to come in with all the symptoms of coronavirus, anyone who would come in with the symptoms would have their nasal passage swabbed. The sample would be sealed in a vial and sent to the Department of Public Health for testing. Someone from the ADPH would come to EAMC-Lanier to retrieve it.

There’s a notice on the front entrance of Valley Park Manor urging people not to visit if they have any symptoms of the coronavirus — fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath.

At present, there are 38 residents of Valley Park Manor, which is located in Medical Park. Amber Griggs is the administrator.

The front door at Diversicare of Lanett has numerous postings about the coronavirus asking people with any of its symptoms to stay away.

According to Angela Rose, the administrator, Diversicare is following the guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Conrol and Prevention.

According to the CDC website, older Americans are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. The CDC has a checklist for nursing homes to follow. It includes a rapid-response plan on the rapid identification of COVID-19 and the management of those who are ill, limitations of visits, stocking up on supplies and resources, sick leave policies and other occupational health considerations, education and training and surge capacity and staffing, equipment and supplies, and postmortem care.

On Friday, EAMC-Lanier Hospital began the same precautions the EAMC-Lanier Nursing Home is taking. Everyone, including staff and visitors, are being tested for fever at the entrance.

Alabama had its first confirmed case of COVID-19 on Friday, and a second case was announced Friday evening.

With Auburn University having a diverse population and local industries having ties with affected countries like Korea, EAMC officials are taking the necessary steps to prepare for the possibility of COVID-19 being in our region of the state.

In the past two months, EAMC officials have been tracking COVID-19 regarding its spread. They have also considered possible protocols on isolation and treatment and have participated in conference calls with the CDC, Alabama Department of Public Health and the Alabama Hospital Association. Staff members at EAMC and EAMC-Lanier are being trained on every component of caring for a patient with COVID-19, including the donning and doffing of personal protective equipment so as to not spread the virus to other patients and employees.

People with a history of travel in the past 14 days to regions where there is widespread, ongoing and sustained community transmission of COVID-19 and who are not experiencing symptoms should call the Alabama Department of Health’s Infectious Diseases and Outbreaks Division at 1-800-338-8374.