AHCA to test all nursing home residents and staff


NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, (KNWA/KFTA) — Starting Monday the Arkansas Health Care Association will be testing all staff and residents at all of its facilities across the state.

Nearly 40,000 people will be tested during this statewide plan. The Executive Director of AHCA said expanding its testing is key to fighting the virus.

The Arkansas Health Care Association oversees roughly 320 facilities including nursing homes and assisted living residential facilities.

“We have actually done a lot of testing in facilities, those homes that have been affected, or thought they were affected and did testing across the board.”

Bunch said once there is a confirmed COVID-19 case, all of the residents and staff at that facility are tested but starting June 1st AHCA plans to expand that testing to all its Arkansas homes.

“I expect that we will find that a lot of people who are positive who didn’t know they were positive that might have been exposed,” said Bunch.

“I just hope that they can get the test results back in a quick enough timeframe so if someone has tested positive they are not infecting other people you know while waiting for the results to come back,” said Justin Randall who’s father is at the Maples at Harber Meadows in Rogers.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at least 1 resident and 1 staff member there have tested positive for COVID-19.

“I was immediately notified by one of the staff members, they called us and let us know they had positive cases,” said Randall.

As of May 27, a total of 50 facilities across the state have been tested, showing positive results in 364 residents and 224 staff members. The majority will be retested through the June campaign.

“Right now we plan to start testing facilities that have been unaffected so far but are in communities that have had community spread,” said Bunch. 

For Randall, he said not being able to see his father has been the toughest part of the pandemic.
“We can only do videos or phone chats. I can’t hug him, so it’s kind of rough but we do what we can to keep everybody safe.”

Bunch said she’s working on a plan to gradually loosen restrictions.

“I don’t want us to have to wait for every facility to be free of this or something in different parts of the state to affect other homes who don’t have cases and is doing well.”

The goal is to have all of the tests completed by the end of June.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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