A CLOSER LOOK: COVID-19 single-day high for deaths; 6 are from nursing homes

A Closer Look

ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) reported 20 COVID-19 deaths at his daily briefing Tuesday, July 28.

Six of the deaths were “late reports,” said interim Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero.

The state has a total of 428 COVID-related deaths and 159 are from nursing homes.

Newton County Nursing Home in Jasper reports two resident deaths as of Tuesday. Fifty residents and 27 employees have the virus, according to the Arkansas Health Care Association’s (AHCA) Executive Director Rachel Bunch.

“The community has been great. So many of the leadership and nurses have been there for most of their careers,” said Bunch. “They’ve been staying at the facility, working double shifts, and doing everything they can for their residents.”

Bunch said their numbers may differ a bit from what the Arkansas Department of Health reports because mass testing results may have a lag time.

The AHCA is part of the trade association that represents nursing homes. The group helps with PPE training and other resources. The ADH has been at Newton County Nursing Home to do an onsite visit, review protocols, isolation, and testing. “ADH was also at the facility prior to the outbreak, which was good,” said Bunch. “Something ADH has been doing routinely with nursing homes.”

A challenge for the nursing home in Jasper is that it’s in a rural part of the state, and staff availability is limited, according to Bunch.

Privately-owned Mitchell’s Nursing Home in Danville’s Yell County is part of AHCA. “They have really seen improvement … the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Bunch.

Last week, Mitchell’s had about 120 infected residents and staff — 10 residents and one staff died. “All employees have recovered, it’s been 18 days from their last resident testing positive, and 21 residents have tested negative,” said Bunch.

The Department of Human Services is the regulatory oversight for compliance at nursing homes. The agency paid a visit to Mitchell’s last week, but the report is yet to be finalized, according to DHS’s Chief Communications and Community Engagement Officer Amy Webb.

Robinson Nursing & Rehabilitation in North Little Rock has two new COVID-19 deaths for a total of four. The 110-bed facility is owned by Michael Morton. This facility had a wrongful death lawsuit filed against it in 2015. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Morton’s arbitration appeal on the 2017 ruling which upheld the case. On January 2020, DHS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) cited the home for 17 deficiencies, overall, it’s had 37 deficiencies in two years.

Two other nursing homes reported deaths for the first time. The Maples at Her-Ber Meadows and Timberlane Health & Rehab -El Dorado.

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