DHSS Announces First Long-Term Care Facility Coronavirus-Related Death; Additional Cases Also Confirmed in Newark Nursing Home
SMYRNA (DE): The Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) announced the first long-term care facility coronavirus-related death in Delaware and the first outbreak of positive cases in such a facility.
The death of a 86-year-old male resident of Little Sisters of the Poor Jeanne Jugan Residence in Newark was reported Thursday to the Division of Public Health. The individual had underlying medical conditions.
This is the second coronavirus-related death in the state. The death of a 66-year-old man from Sussex County was announced earlier yesterday.
Officials also say that six residents of the Newark nursing home tested positive for COVID-19, The Department of Health is actively working with the facility to ensure resident and staff safety.
“We are deeply saddened to hear of this individual’s death,” said DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a practicing family physician. “The population who lives in these facilities are at the greatest risk for COVID-19, based on their age and underlying health conditions. Unfortunately, this death and the confirmed cases at this facility underscore the need for all long-term care facilities in Delaware to follow strict screening protocols for anyone entering their facilities.”
On March 13, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued aggressive measures for nursing homes nationwide to follow with respect to safety at their facilities:
• Restricting all visitors, effective immediately, with exceptions for compassionate care, such as end-of-life situations;
• Restricting all volunteers and nonessential health care personnel and other personnel (i.e. barbers);
• Cancelling all group activities and communal dining;
• Implementing active screening of residents and health care personnel for fever and respiratory systems.
In cases of compassionate care, CMS advises that visitors will be equipped with personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, and the visits will be limited to a specific room.
On March 16, DHSS issued further restrictive and specific guidance to all facilities serving older adults, including screening protocols for visitors, requirements for disinfecting rooms, and reinforcing resident and staff hygiene.
Secretary Walker said DHSS’ Division of Health Care Quality (DHCQ) will work closely with long-term care facilities in the state to verify that these strong measures are in place at each facility, and if, not, to assist them in implementing stronger protocols.
On Monday, Governor John Carney declared a Public Health Emergency in Delaware. On Sunday, March 22, Governor Carney issued the fourth and fifth modifications to his State of Emergency declaration, ordering Delawareans to stay at home whenever possible and closing all non-essential businesses in the state to help stop community spread of COVID-19. The orders went into effect at 8:00 a.m. Tuesday.
The Governor’s order does allow Delawareans who need to see a doctor, pick up a prescription, buy groceries, or engage in other activities essential to their health to leave their residences.