Residents test negative following second potential brush with virus
Residents at the Legacy Living and Rehabilitation Center were put on notice June 22 after three or more staff or residents had exhibited respiratory symptoms over a 72-hour period. A memo to residents explained that the notice didn’t necessarily mean that anyone had tested positive for COVID-19, only that those in question had exhibited symptoms.
Approximately six hours later that same day, residents received a second notice, which was also anonymously shared with County 17. This time, the note said that all resident and staff COVID-19 tests had come back negative, including 140 residents and 197 staffers.
Legacy Vice President of Continuing Health Services and Administrator Jonni Belden confirmed Monday that they are required by the Centers of Medicine and Medicaid Services (CMS) to notify families and residents any time there are three or more staff or residents who demonstrate respiratory symptoms within a 72-hour time period, regardless of the current pandemic. This could mean anything from a runny nose or cough to a fever.
“It doesn’t mean they are positive for COVID-19,” Belden reiterated.
Belden could not say whether the three in question in this case were staff or residents, per the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. What she could attest to, however, was that all 140 residents had been tested on June 18, with results returned the following day. Of staff, only four test results were still pending as of Monday afternoon.
If a staff member is exhibiting respiratory symptoms, she added, the protocol is for that person to be tested for the virus, followed by a mandatory seven days off. Further, she said, that employee must be asymptomatic for three days before returning to regular duties.
“We anticipate that all of them will be negative,” she said. “That’s pretty fabulous.”
Their job at the Legacy is to avoid transmission, she added, noting that she feels her staff is doing a fabulous job at that.
Statewide, other residential facilities have not been as lucky.
Back in May, the state announced a targeted COVID-19 testing plan for Wyoming nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. The effort was an attempt to monitor potential outbreaks of the coronavirus. The state’s plan, which Governor Mark Gordon and State Health Officer and Epidemiologist Dr. Alexia Harrist announced during a May 20 news briefing, involves two varied strategies including asking long-term care facilities to conduct COVID-19 tests on at least 20% of staff and residents every two weeks and implementing a more comprehensive strategy for any facility where a worker or resident tests positive.
Under these guidelines, which remain in effect statewide, if a positive case is discovered in a nursing home or assisted-living facility, all facility staff and residents are then required to be tested once weekly until the potential risks of an outbreak have waned.
Wyoming saw its first COVID-19 nursing home outbreak at the Worland Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Washakie County in late May.
The Worland facility has since been at the center of an ongoing string of COVID-19 cases with six residents who have died in connection with the virus, as County 17 previously reported. Per state guidelines, testing at the facility has increased and subsequently identified 16 cases among residents and 12 among facility staff accumulatively, per the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH).
Additionally, a resident of the Life Care Center of Casper long-term care facility has also died from complications related to COVID-19, according to WDH.
Older residents and people with certain health conditions have a higher risk of developing more serious or life-threatening complications if infected with COVID-19, Harrist has said.
As of Tuesday evening, among Wyoming residents, there have been 19 coronavirus-related deaths, 974 lab-confirmed cases, 256 probable cases and 729 recoveries with 20 COVID-19 related deaths reported thus far, impacting all 23 counties statewide.
At the same time Tuesday, there have been 34 lab-confirmed cases, 13 probable cases and 33 recoveries with no COVID-19 related deaths reported in Campbell County.
Jen Kocher contributed to this story.