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Medical staff shed light on COVID-19 situation inside Accordius Health

Dr.Shenk said no visitors are allowed inside the facility as they try to keep the virus inside and from spreading to more patients.
Dr.Shenk said no visitors are allowed inside the facility as they try to keep the virus inside and from spreading to more patients.(WHSV)
Published: Apr. 20, 2020 at 6:02 PM EDT
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On Saturday, Accordius Health in Harrisonburg

, with 81 residents and 12 staff members testing positive for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, medical staff at the facility are working long hours and putting themselves at risk to help those patients who need it most amid the outbreak.

"I just think I'm doing what I feel like I am called to do, you know, for my love of these people," Jacey Robertson, a Physician Assistant at the facility, said. "It's just to be by their side and try to provide the best care we can for them."

Roberts is one of two PA's at the facility who's been tested for COVID-19 and said she is beyond thankful to be negative.

The mother of four said the chance of getting the virus would never stop her from working at Accordius and described her days as intense.

"We've been moving, you know, quite rapidly from patient to patient with frequent vital sign monitoring and watching how much fluid they're intaking and trying to keep up with their resuscitative," Roberts said.

Visitation is restricted at the Harrisonburg facility and temperatures for staff members are being checked constantly. Dr. Jonathan Shenk, the medical director of the facility, said this will help keep the virus locked down from the outside.

"We have seen firsthand how it spreads like wildfire and we don't know when, where, or how it got started," Dr. Shenk said. "People can be without symptoms and be carrying the disease without knowing it."

Dr. Shenk said while taking care of patients, the staff has made it a priority to contact family members on their loved one's condition. He said this can take time due to the number of patients and family members. He said only the family members on a patient's call list are usually contacted.

Dr. Shenk and Roberts said they are both thankful for the support the community has shown and said it pushed them to continue to do their best.

Over the weekend, several people stopped by to just give a wave to patients through their windows. These types of visits are one the facility is encouraging and they ask the community to stop by at any time as long as you stay outside.

Dr. Shenk said the community has also been providing meals for staff and yard signs for the facility.

"You know, these residents, I feel like they are like family to me now, and to be here is tiring," Roberts said. "But to be home is even harder because I want to be by their side, I want to know how they're doing."

Although the facility is no longer taking visitors they're still asking for the community's support, whether it be a sign of encouragement or a window visit to their patients.

The outbreak at Accordius Health Harrisonburg is one of eight total outbreaks in the Central Shenandoah Health District, but the only one in a long-term care center. There are also four outbreaks in congregate settings, one in an education setting, one in a correctional facility, and on in a health care facility.

The Central Shenandoah Health District has seen 23 total confirmed hospitalizations due to the virus, though the cumulative hospitalization numbers provided by the Virginia Department of Health are always delayed by several days.

No facility in Virginia is required to report the status of cases, hospitalizations, deaths, or any health data about their residents or employees, due to Virginia state code, which prohibits the health department from releasing information on individual facilities unless the facility agrees.

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