4th resident of central Virginia long-term care facilities dies amid COVID-19 outbreak

Published: Mar. 26, 2020 at 3:12 PM EDT
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Richmond and Henrico Health Director Dr. Danny Avula says that a fourth resident at Canterbury Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center has died. It is unknown if it is directly linked to COVID-19 but Avula suspects that it is.

That would raise the total number of COVID-19 deaths in Virginia to 14.

Avula said the man who died on Thursday was in his 70s.

A total of 14 residents and four workers have tested positive at the facility, while another 16 residents’ symptoms are being monitored.

The third death came on Wednesday after officials said two elderly residents of the Canterbury Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center died on Tuesday of the virus. The three were among those receiving treatment at a hospital. Officials said the first death was a woman in her 80s, the second was a man in his 60s and the third was a man in his 70s.

“The Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center has worked closely over several days with the Henrico Health Department to confirm the virus and relocate the affected patients to the hospital for care. They are following health department guidance and taking necessary steps to protect the health and safety of their residents and staff,” a release said.

Residents are being treated at a regional hospital and while other patients are being treated at the center in an isolated unit with dedicated nurses and staff. Additionally, four Canterbury Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center workers have tested positive for COVID-19.

“The safety and health of Canterbury residents and staff is our primary concern. We are working directly with local and state health departments and taking guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) protocols to help contain further spread of the virus,” the medical director said.

More than a week ago, the facility worked with health officials to implement measures to control transmission, including establishing a dedicated ward for residents with symptoms.

As an additional measure, the facility retained an industrial cleaning service to provide full and ongoing decontamination of the facility.

“This includes both daily deep cleaning and the incorporation of six hydroxyl generators, which create airborne hydroxyl radicals that treat pathogens in both the air and on surfaces,” the medical director said.

The center is monitoring all residents for symptoms along with daily employee screenings. Employees with respiratory symptoms and fever are prohibited from entering the facility.

“The health department is continuing to collaborate with the facility to reduce risk of transmission, conduct contact investigation, and to implement control measures,” a release said.

“While our thoughts, efforts and prayers are focused on our residents and the families of those who have passed, we also want to that those nurses, doctors, therapists, aides, housekeepers, dietary staff and maintenance teams that are working tirelessly to care for our elders. Their brave professionalism and dedication to the people in our care is a testament to the love and respect we all share for our residents,” Canterbury Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center said.

On-site visitation for family members is still prohibited, but administrators encourage families to visit virtually by telephone or video call, email, text or instant messaging.

“There are serious concerns," said Richmond and Henrico Health Director Danny Avula. He praised Canterbury for their quick response and how they’re working with health leaders to contain the virus.

But he says there’s a sad reality.

“It’s likely not over. Whether its this facility or another, we’re going to likely have more sick individuals in congregant care facilities. We’re likely going to have more deaths in congregant care facilities.”

The health director wants everyone to treat COVID 19 seriously.

“For so many folks who are like ‘we’ll be ok. We’ll just go hang out at the park or hang out with friends’, I hope this hits home in a different way and makes us realize that this is real. It’s in our community and we really do need to take every precaution we can not just for ourselves and for our neighbors," Avula said.

Avula says the Richmond and Henrico health departments have a total of roughly 300 test kits right now. But they’re reserving those for people who meet specific conditions - the elderly, those with underlying health conditions and healthcare workers and first responders who are showing symptoms.

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