State Reports 73 Virus Cases at Area Nursing Homes

Updated 1:30 p.m. — Columbiana County nursing home numbers.
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Out of 853 coronavirus cases reported online in long-term care centers in the state, 73 cases have been diagnosed in Mahoning and Trumbull counties, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

Mahoning County long-term care centers have 58 cases of people who have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease spread by coronavirus, at 10 sites. Trumbull County has 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in three centers and there are no cases listed for Columbiana County. 

In Columbiana County, there have been nine cases of COVID-19 in nursing homes and three deaths, according to information released late Friday morning by the Columbiana County health district.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced an order Monday requiring long-term care centers to notify residents and families within 24 hours of a resident or staff member testing positive for COVID-19.

DeWine did not mention it Monday, but eight centers that provide long-term care for people with developmental disabilities also are included in the order, along with sites that prove senior care. The online list will be updated online every Wednesday. 

In Mahoning County, COVID-19 cases were reported at the following locations: 

  • Beeghly Oaks Center for Rehabilitation and Healing: 5.
  • Continuing Healthcare of Boardman: 3.
  • Marian Living Center: 3.
  • Masternick Memorial Health Care Center: 2.
  • Mercy Health Humility House Senior Living: 8.
  • Shepherd of the Valley — Boardman: 2.
  • The Inn at Glenellen: 16.
  • Windsor House at Canfield: 12.
  • Windsor House at St. Mary’s Alzheimer Center: 5.
  • Woodlands Rehab at Hampton Woods: 2.

In Trumbull County, the Ohio Department of Health reported the following cases:

  • Continuing Healthcare at the Ridge: 7.
  • O’Brien Memorial Healthcare Center: 7.
  • Windsor House at Liberty Healthcare Center: 1.

No cases were reported at long-term care centers in Columbiana county.

Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health, reported during a briefing Thursday that long-term care residents totaled 826 cases of COVID-19. According to the online report, however, 811 cases were listed under long-term care facilities and another report listed 42 cases from the Department of Developmental Disabilities. Of the 42 positive COVID-19 cases, 36 of those were staff members.

“A lot is made of this, but we shouldn’t be surprised by this data. It’s not that hospitals or nursing homes are doing something wrong. These are very high risk places where more of our populations that are exposed,” Acton said. “The work that is being done is heroic and we are coming alongside them to that job well. I just want to acknowledge that we shouldn’t be surprised by those numbers, this is the nature of the virus we are dealing with.”

The Inn at Glenellen in North Lima, owned by Briarfield, led the area in total diagnoses. Requests for comment were not returned Thursday.

Mercy Health has residents who tested positive at both Humility House, Austintown, and Marian Living Center, North Lima. Jonathon Fauvie, public relations and communications manager for Mercy Health-Great Lakes Group, released the following statement:

“We follow safety protocols each and every time we care for our residents which includes guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Ohio Department of Health that are focused on minimizing exposure to other residents and associates,” he said. “Furthermore, we follow all CDC cleaning protocols to further mitigate any risk. Both Humility House and Marian Living Center remain a safe place to live, work and receive care.”

Windsor House Inc., owner John Masternick released the names of four sites that had COVID-19 cases prior to the list being released by the state. The facilities include Windsor House at Canfield, O’Brien Memorial Health Care Center in Masury, Masternick Memorial Health Care Center in New Middletown and St. Mary’s Alzheimer’s Center in Columbiana. Windsor House Inc. owns 12 nursing homes and five assisted living centers primarily in the Mahoning Valley.

Masternick said his centers are working with local, state and federal health officials, as well as hired an outside company to deep clean and disinfect sites. 

“Windsor House is taking the most aggressive steps available to stop the spread of COVID-19 and provide treatment for residents that have either tested positive for COVID-19 or are symptomatic,” he said.

While the state’s website lists the number of positive COVID-19 cases, it is not revealing the number of deaths at long-term care facilities. It does, however, report both the number of cases and deaths of inmates in state prisons. DeWine has said both are congregate settings, which exacerbates the possibility of outbreaks.

Despite high mortality rates among senior-care centers, there has been a lack of, and in some cases refusal, of reporting. The Associated Press reports at least 4,817 deaths have occurred in nursing homes as of Thursday. It is tallying deaths through state health department records and media reports around the country. According to NBC News, there have been 5,670 coronavirus deaths in long-term care facilities, based on data it has been gathering from state health departments that are reporting.

Mahoning County Public Health reports 41 people have died from COVID-19, which is second in the state, just behind Cuyahoga County, where 42 people have died. There are 523 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Mahoning County and 203 hospitalizations.

Of the 41 deaths, 46% are long-term care residents. Mahoning County Public Healh has been issuing the percentage of long-term care facility residents who have died from COVID-19 for weeks, but not the names, number of deaths or positive cases at centers. 

According to the health department, 55% of deaths are among people who are 80 years and older, while 38% of deaths are among people 60 to 79 years of age. Deaths of people 60 and under account for 7%. Of all of the deaths, 96% had underlying health conditions.

These statistics are in line with the state, as 50% of all deaths are among those aged 80 and older, 25% are among people 70- to 79-years-old and 17% are people aged 60 to 69.

The Trumbull County Combined Health District reports 208 total cases with 97 hospitalizations and 15 deaths. The Ohio Department of Health reports 136 total cases in Columbiana County, with 78 hospitalizations and 10 deaths.

There are 102 long-term facilities, which includes nursing homes and assisted living facilities, in Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

The Ohio Department of Health stated that residents and family members should understand that the presence of COVID-19 does not necessarily indicate a center isn’t following proper procedures. Families should always feel free to ask questions and if not satisfied, contact their local ombudsman.

Long-term care ombudsmen at Direction Home of Eastern Ohio, are advocates for residents at senior-care centers. Ombudsmen handle concerns at facilities, residence rights issues and other issues relating to long-term care. To speak to an ombudsman, call 800 589 5826.

Cassandra Valentini, community liaison for the agency, said ombudsmen have been busy fielding calls regarding COVID-19. 

“They have been receiving calls steadily over the last few weeks,” she said.

The Ohio Department of Health stated the information for long-term care facilities does not replace a thoughtful conversation with facility staff about their current infection control practices and mitigation strategies. Questions that families might ask a care facility include:

  • What are you doing currently to protect residents from COVID-19?
  • What precautions do you take when you do identify a person who is symptomatic of COVID-19?
  • How are families kept apprised of changes related to your infection control policies?

The state health department also said Thursday’s numbers ​are cumulative and may include individuals who have been discharged from area hospitals and are in recovery, as well as past cases when an individual has fully recovered and returned to their prior place of residence. 

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.