Blair nursing home faces COVID-19 outbreak

Cristopher Centers

The Three Rivers Health Department traced part of a recent COVID-19 spike to a nursing home and assisted-living facility in Blair. The family of a woman in her 90s living at the Crowell Memorial Home recently learned she is one of the residents who tested positive for the virus as […]

The Three Rivers Health Department traced part of a recent COVID-19 spike to a nursing home and assisted-living facility in Blair. The family of a woman in her 90s living at the Crowell Memorial Home recently learned she is one of the residents who tested positive for the virus as part of the recent outbreak. According to Crowell Memorial Home’s leadership, as of Sept. 23, 25 nursing home residents and 12 employees have been diagnosed with COVID-19.”We could tell, just from the short seconds that we were able to speak with her, that her health was very stressed,” Dave Dunn said. Dunn said his family hasn’t had the chance to interact with his mother-in-law in person for months, per facility rules.With families being kept out, Dunn questioned how the virus got into the facility.”These are people that have been locked down since March, so the concern is who’s in and out. How does it get in there?” Dunn said. His other frustration: transparency. Dunn said his family has reached out to the home’s executive director and board of directors to discuss maybe seeing his mother-in-law through a window. Now, with her positive testing status, Dunn said he wants to ensure the facility will update him on her recovery.”This is not about the help that’s caring, doing a fabulous job with residents like my mother-in-law. This is about administration. This is about clear lines of communication,” he said.In a joint statement, Jaclyn Svendgard, executive director of Crowell Memorial Home, and David Drew, chairman of the facility’s board of directors, issued a statement, in part:”Communication remains strong as this has not been a surprise to our residents, their families, or our dedicated staff, however, we want to make our community aware and reassure everyone that we are on top of the situation.””When they have people doing the right thing, quarantining themselves, then they get really run thin, short-staffed, it really gets hard,” Dr. Bob Rauner said. “So a nursing home can’t control (an outbreak) by itself.”Rauner is the president of the Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln. He said he worries that in smaller, more rural communities, local clinics won’t be able to manage a surge.”The benefit in rural Nebraska is you are spread apart and there’s less to spread, but you also don’t have, unfortunately, the organized plan. You don’t have the mask ordinances. There’s sort of, I think, a complacency,” he said.Rauner also said the state should step in with a plan to help nursing homes address outbreaks before they overwhelm the system. “Rural communities don’t have the resources, so essentially, those will all be coming to Lincoln hospitals, Omaha hospitals, Kearney,” he said.In another section of their joint statement, Svendgard and Drew with Crowell Memorial Home said the facility’s focus is ensuring the safety and well-being of their residents and staff members. The statement said, “We are following proper infection control and emergency preparedness to ensure their safety and well-being by working closely with the ICAP, Netech, and MCH Health System teams. We will continue communicating all updates to our residents, residents’ families, and employees through Eblast, email, and personal phone calls.”

The Three Rivers Health Department traced part of a recent COVID-19 spike to a nursing home and assisted-living facility in Blair.

The family of a woman in her 90s living at the Crowell Memorial Home recently learned she is one of the residents who tested positive for the virus as part of the recent outbreak. According to Crowell Memorial Home’s leadership, as of Sept. 23, 25 nursing home residents and 12 employees have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

“We could tell, just from the short seconds that we were able to speak with her, that her health was very stressed,” Dave Dunn said. Dunn said his family hasn’t had the chance to interact with his mother-in-law in person for months, per facility rules.

With families being kept out, Dunn questioned how the virus got into the facility.

“These are people that have been locked down since March, so the concern is who’s in and out. How does it get in there?” Dunn said.

His other frustration: transparency. Dunn said his family has reached out to the home’s executive director and board of directors to discuss maybe seeing his mother-in-law through a window. Now, with her positive testing status, Dunn said he wants to ensure the facility will update him on her recovery.

“This is not about the help that’s caring, doing a fabulous job with residents like my mother-in-law. This is about administration. This is about clear lines of communication,” he said.

In a joint statement, Jaclyn Svendgard, executive director of Crowell Memorial Home, and David Drew, chairman of the facility’s board of directors, issued a statement, in part:

“Communication remains strong as this has not been a surprise to our residents, their families, or our dedicated staff, however, we want to make our community aware and reassure everyone that we are on top of the situation.”

“When they have people doing the right thing, quarantining themselves, then they get really run thin, short-staffed, it really gets hard,” Dr. Bob Rauner said. “So a nursing home can’t control (an outbreak) by itself.”

Rauner is the president of the Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln. He said he worries that in smaller, more rural communities, local clinics won’t be able to manage a surge.

“The benefit in rural Nebraska is you are spread apart and there’s less to spread, but you also don’t have, unfortunately, the organized plan. You don’t have the mask ordinances. There’s sort of, I think, a complacency,” he said.

Rauner also said the state should step in with a plan to help nursing homes address outbreaks before they overwhelm the system.

“Rural communities don’t have the resources, so essentially, those will all be coming to Lincoln hospitals, Omaha hospitals, Kearney,” he said.

In another section of their joint statement, Svendgard and Drew with Crowell Memorial Home said the facility’s focus is ensuring the safety and well-being of their residents and staff members.

The statement said, “We are following proper infection control and emergency preparedness to ensure their safety and well-being by working closely with the ICAP, Netech, and MCH Health System teams. We will continue communicating all updates to our residents, residents’ families, and employees through Eblast, email, and personal phone calls.”

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