Oklahoma Nursing Homes Take Coronavirus (COVID-19) Precautions
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt said a senior at an assisted living facility tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) during a press conference Wednesday.
According to a news release, the person is a former resident of Ponca City Nursing and Rehabilitation facility. The resident was discharged after displaying symptoms of COVID-19 over the weekend. Test results confirmed the resident was positive for the virus on Tuesday, March 17.
Nursing homes and facilities throughout the state are increasing precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect their residents.
The activity bus at Wellington Parke Senior Living hadn’t moved in days when Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt announced the state's first COVID-19 case at a senior living center Wednesday.
Like many nursing homes and assisted living centers, Wellington Parke is hunkering down, waiting and hoping for the coronavirus to pass.
The Northeast Oklahoma City senior living center is not home to the positive case. However, across the country, nursing homes have been epicenters for the spread and deadly consequences of COVID-19.
Reform advocates are sounding the alarm, while nursing homes say they are doing all they can to protect their residents.
“We take this very serious,” Wellington Parke owner and administrator Jim McWhirter said. “We are trying everything we can think of.”
The retirement community has limited access, and are prohibiting guests, family and nonessential staff.
“We are continually sanitizing and cleaning all of our main common areas,” McWhirter said. “We now serve food in individual rooms. We are also taking the temperature daily of all of our residents.”
McWhirter said they are closely following CDC guidelines.
“Those guidelines are flawed,” nursing home reform advocate Wes Bledsoe said. “The principle problem we have is the lack of personal protective equipment. To protect the staff and would keep the spread contained by not spreading it to other patients.”
“Historically, the lack of proper infection control is one of the top five deficiencies cited every year,” he said.
He is calling on nursing homes to add additional protective gear, virus response teams, and isolation rooms.
“Right now, we don’t know who is introducing the virus into the nursing home,” Bledsoe said. “You can be contagious without being symptomatic without even having a fever.”
At Wellington Parke, McWhirter said he will do whatever it takes to keep his residents safe.
“It’s financially a burden, but there’s nothing we can do about it because lives are more important than money,” he said.