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Officials are searching for everyone who had contact with those who died and others infected at Koester and Springmeade, Propes said. No transfers in or out of the facilities are being permitted to try to halt the spread of COVID-19.
Propes said the Springmeade staff member who tested positive worked at both Springmeade and Koester and is among seven associated with the nursing homes who are hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19. One hospitalized person has been released and is doing well, Propes said.
Propes, who spoke on Monday during a joint news conference with Dayton and Montgomery County officials, also said there is an additional person in Miami County, who is unaffiliated with the nursing homes, who tested positive for COVID-19. The 56-year-old had traveled outside the U.S. and has been in self-quarantine since returning to the United States.
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“It is a trying time for everyone,” Propes said, calling for people to work together and follow the orders given by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health, to stay at home, use social distancing and a variety of other measures designed to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Propes said test results are coming back from national labs more slowly than anticipated.
“You have every state in the union sending those, they’re backlogged tens of thousands of tests. They’re taking considerably longer to come back than we would have liked,” said Propes, adding that the Ohio Department of Health is producing test results much more quickly.
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Koester has 108 residents and 165 employees and Springmeade has 86 residents and 150 employees. Both are operated by AdCare Health Systems and owned by Premier Health, which also owns Upper Valley Medical Center.
Propes said “best practices” would call for staff to not work at both facilities but sometimes there is only one specialist and so that person may need to travel between Koester and Springmeade.
“There may be situations where they have to go in multiple facilities,” Propes said. “There are preventative measures in place (to minimize possible transmission.)”
Ben Sutherly, director of communications for Premier Health System, said on Sunday that all U.S. Centers for Disease Control protocols are being followed and employees at all Premier Health locations “continue to take several precautions as they care for patients and residents, including monitoring themselves for symptoms upon leaving and returning home, and upon arriving at and leaving the skilled nursing facility. Temperatures also are being checked mid-shift.”
He said employees are wearing masks and other personal protective equipment while caring for residents. Since March 12, all visitors have been restricted except for family in cases when a resident is at the end of life.
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Montgomery County Coroner Dr. Kent Harshbarger said he has added protective measures in his office in the wake of the pandemic.
He said autopsies of COVID-19 cases will be avoided where possible.
“Most of these will be natural deaths and not our jurisdiction. If we take jurisdiction, the remains are being tested, if it is appropriate, and stored until the test result is back,” he said.
Harshbarger said the office is always under an infectious disease threat and operates within negative pressure rooms and with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), which is being conserved where possible.
“We did split our employees into teams, and they are never allowed together, such that if one group does need to be isolated, the other group will still be available to work. We are taking additional precautions at the death scene, asking additional questions about travel and symptoms, we also are covering the mouth and nose with a cloth soaked with disinfectant, to absorb any respiratory droplets that may be expelled while the body is being moved,” Harshbarger said. “My office has been very proactive over the last 10 years and have equipment and plans in place to cover any potential capacity surge. And are working with the state to assist as needed should that become necessary.”
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He has also added limits to forensic examinations.
“Opening the skull requires an oscillating saw which creates air born particles, putting staff at greater risk. Even though we are in PPE, I have decided that If the pathologists feels they have enough information to rule on the cause of death, the skill is not being opened, the internal scalp and skull surface is examined, to rule out an impact site,” Harshbarger said.
Statewide there are 442 cases of COVID-19 in 46 of the state’s 88 counties, said Jeff Cooper, Dayton-Montgomery County Health Commissioner. He said there have been six deaths and the disease has hospitalized 104 people ranging in age from 1 to 93. Cooper said the official tally for Montgomery County is 12 but he thinks that number complied by the Ohio Department of Health is incomplete and called for a “statewide solution” to get a better system of reporting positive test results collected by the the Ohio Department of Health, hospitals and private labs.
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