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Middletown Home confirms first 3 COVID-19 cases; 'fully prepared' to respond, says CEO Vogel

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The Middletown Home learned Wednesday that two residents and one staff member have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, Home CEO Louis Vogel III told the Press & Journal.

These are the first residents or staff who have tested positive for the virus at the facility.

The two residents had already been moved temporarily into the Home’s respiratory care area before the test results came back.

Vogel expects both residents will have to remain in the area for from two weeks to up to 30 days. They will each have to have two negative tests for the virus before they can be discharged from the area.

One of the residents continues to show symptoms of the virus while the other is asymptomatic, he said.

The staff member who tested positive is quarantining at home, Vogel said.

The Home had been testing just residents and staff who showed symptoms of the virus, and then based on the direction of their physician.

Now, Vogel said the Home is testing all its residents and staff for the virus in order to get a “baseline” to see if there are any testing positive who are not showing any symptoms.

“The Department of Health has put in some recommended guidelines for universal testing. We think it is prudent at this time to test all the residents to see where they are” regardless of whether or not they are showing symptoms, Vogel said.

The Home had obtained 500 test kits that have a turnaround time of 24 hours in terms of results. Vogel anticipates the Home will have the results of the first round of across the board testing sometime Friday.

The Home on West Harrisburg Pike is licensed for 102 residents in the health center — the nursing home component of the campus — and 64 residents in personal care. Another 17 residents live in apartments on the campus. 

The across-the-board testing is focused on the 102 nursing home residents. However, any resident or staff member who wants to be tested can be, Vogel said.

The Home has about 200 staff.

Vogel could not say how often the Home will be doing this across-the-board testing of residents and staff going forward.

He sees no problems being able to obtain enough test kits. He couldn’t say if the state is providing any funding to help purchase the kits.

Vogel said the only request from staff since the one tested positive is for additional pastoral support from the two ministers who are employed by the Home, as “people are scared.”

The Home has called the families of all residents who live at the facility and has pledged going forward to reach out to all of the families at least once a week, he said.

The Home for months has had a plan in place for what to do if someone tests positive for the virus. Home staff had practiced and drilled on the plan so it could be activated quickly.

“It’s been all around us,” Vogel said of the virus. “We don’t know how or why” it finally struck home but “we were fully prepared” once it did.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health last updated its data on nursing homes Tuesday on its website. It did not list the Home, but did list at least one employee case at Frey Village on North Union Street, a case that Frey Village disputes.

Statewide in nursing and personal care homes Thursday, there are 15,158 resident cases of COVID-19, and 2,563 cases among employees, for a total of 17,721 at 600 facilities in 44 counties. Out of the total deaths, 3,501 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities — about 65.2 percent.

Gov. Tom Wolf said earlier this month that Pennsylvania will test every resident and employee of nursing homes and other long-term-care facilities for COVID-19 on a weekly basis, but that has not yet happened.