Two nursing facility residents die of COVID

NEWPORT — An outbreak of COVID-19 at Avamere Rehabilitation of Newport has claimed two lives, bringing the virus’s death toll in Lincoln County to four.

Avamere issued a joint press release with Lincoln County Public Health on June 26 to announce that one of its residents had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. They subsequently tested all residents and staff — staff testing had been and continues to be ongoing — and on Thursday, July 2, reported in a letter to families of residents that 16 tested positive, in addition to 10 staff members. Two staff members tested positive earlier in June and have since returned to work.

The nursing facility is somewhat unique in that it provides COVID-19 case information on its website, which was updated this week to reflect two more positive residents, as well as two deaths. The health department reported those deaths on Thursday, July 2, and Saturday, July 4, respectively. The first was an 86-year-old woman who tested positive on June 29 and died July 1 in Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital. The second, a 96-year-old woman who tested positive June 30, died on July 2 in the nursing home. Both had underlying health conditions.

The Oregon Department of Human Services, which has oversight of licensed long-term care facilities in the state, conducted “focused infection control” surveys on June 17 and 18, following the initial positive staff member cases, and on June 26, following the announcement of the positive resident. In both cases, the agency’s inspector found zero deficiencies at the facility.

The News-Times obtained copies of those inspection reports, the latest of which found “the facility was clean, well organized and had appropriate infection control procedures in place.” The surveyor confirmed that Avamere was not accepting any COVID-19 positive admissions and had updated its admission guidelines on June 22 to require two negative tests to admit any resident. Those controls are in place for new residents, as well as for those returning from care elsewhere, and admissions and readmissions are also quarantined upon entry. The surveyor also observed that staff was following guidelines for hygiene and personal protective equipment and noted that “they are practicing excellent infection control/COVID surveillance.”

The census at the time of the survey was 35 residents. A total of 18 have tested positive, including the two women who died, and Avamere lists 14 cases on its website as active in the building. It’s not clear if the other two residents have been discharged or hospitalized elsewhere. Those in the facility who test positive are housed together in a separate unit, with staff dedicated to caring for only those residents.

On the same day that Avamere announced its first positive patient, Westmont Lakeview Senior Living Community in Lincoln City reported that a staff member has tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The health department and Oregon Health Authority worked with the facility to test all of Lakeview’s residents on July 1. Results of those tests were not available at press time.


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