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A worker at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Wash., near Seattle, wears a mask as she leaves the building, Monday, March 2, 2020. Several of the people who have died in Washington state from the COVID-19 coronavirus were tied to the long-term care facility, where dozens of residents were sick. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

This story was updated Monday, March 2, 2020, at 8 p.m. with more information.

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Original story: 

A Washington State nursing care facility belonging to Cleveland, Tennessee-based Life Care Centers of America has stopped family visits and put a hold on admissions amid four coronavirus-related deaths of residents.

The company also said the Kirkland, Washington, location is monitoring residents and employees and putting those with symptoms in isolation before sending them to area hospitals.

"Testing, confirmation and treatment of the virus is handled by local hospitals after patients who exhibit certain symptoms are sent from our facility to acute care centers," said Cathy Murray, chief operating officer for the company, in an emailed statement on Monday afternoon.

The New York Times reported that the death toll rose to four residents of the nursing home. Also, four other residents of the center and a worker have the virus, the newspaper reported.

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A woman adjusts her mask as others make use of a hand sanitizing station at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Wash., near Seattle, Monday, March 2, 2020. Several of the people who have died in Washington state from the COVID-19 coronavirus were tied to the long-term care facility, where dozens of residents were sick. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

So far, six people have died in the United States, all in Washington, with the nursing home a focus of health investigators.

According to Life Care, workers are screened prior to beginning work and upon leaving.

"We are also following infection control recommendations, including proper hand-washing techniques and wearing masks, gowns and gloves when caring for any symptomatic patients," Murray said. "All of these decisions have been made based on recommendations from the state health department and the CDC."

Murray said that the hold on admissions was to fully focus on its current residents and associates.

"Our Life Care associates continue to focus on resident care, and we would like to acknowledge how dedicated they have been throughout this entire situation," she said.

Life Care Centers is the nation's biggest privately owned nursing home chain with more than 200 skilled nursing home facilities in 28 states.

On Monday, King County Executive Dow Constantine issued an emergency declaration to allow additional resources in the effort to contain COVID-19.

"We have moved to a new stage in the fight to contain and mitigate this outbreak. King County is aligned and organized behind this common mission, with Public Health – Seattle & King County as our lead agency," he said. "We will direct all available resources to help cities, health-care facilities, businesses, and families continue life as normally as possible. But our best strategies depend on millions of residents actively following established disease prevention guidelines."

Constantine said the county is purchasing a motel to house coronavirus patients, and modular housing that was bought for homeless people will be repurposed for coronavirus patients to recover in isolation.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-63189. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.

 

 

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