Catholic Health announced Monday there are more than 60 cases of COVID-19 at Father Baker Manor, in what is believed to be the first major outbreak at a Western New York nursing home.
A total of 41 residents and 25 staff members at the Orchard Park facility have tested positive for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus. A concentration of cases have been traced to a particular unit, but Dr. Kevin Shiley, Catholic Health director of infectious disease and prevention, said everyone at the facility was tested as a precaution.
“Even if they’re not symptomatic, we do not know what level of contagion those people may pose, particularly to the other frail and elderly within the facility,” Shiley said. “Therefore we extended our search out further and this really was something we were able to do very quickly because of the rapid testing that we had available at that point.”
Two Father Baker Manor residents complained of fever last week, leading Catholic Health to test all 138 residents, bringing back 41 positives. All 187 staff members were also tested, bringing back 25 positives. However, no staff members have complained of illness thus far, officials said.
Catholic Health, the nonprofit health care system that operates Father Baker Manor, credited the availability of rapid testing kits. Mark Sullivan, president and CEO of Catholic Health, reported the system received more than 900 kits Friday and put about half of them to immediate use and results were returned within 48 hours.
“These numbers continue to come in,” Sullivan said.
Catholic Health officials added they have ordered a total of 4,000 kits. In addition to the 960 received Friday, they anticipate the arrival of about 1,000 more by mid-week.
Late Monday, Catholic Health provided the following additional numbers: As of 4:30 p.m. there were 102 active COVID-19 cases among critical care and medical patients, excluding Father Baker Manor residents, including 60 patients who were being treated exclusively for COVID-19. Sixty-one critical care and medical patients were admitted to St. Joseph's Hospital, which has been converted to a COVID-only campus, with 36 being "critical care" COVID-only patients.
Officials nationwide, from Gov. Andrew Cuomo to President Donald Trump, have repeatedly warned that nursing homes are particularly vulnerable to a serious COVID-19 outbreak. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers older adults at greater risk to become seriously ill from COVID-19.
An outbreak in a Washington state nursing home has already been linked to more than 30 deaths. That facility, Life Care Center of Kirkland, is facing a $600,000 fine and may be barred from Medicare and Medicaid programs if it can’t comply with federal regulations by September.
Officials have found that Life Care Center did not have adequate infection control and did not provide proper care.
In New York state, all approximately 620 nursing homes were barred from allowing visitors starting March 13. Nursing home staff were also to be screened for fevers.
However, the state is also mandating its nursing homes admit COVID-19 patients. The state Department of Health released an advisory March 25 that facilities cannot turn away a resident just because they have a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19.
Elderwood, Western New York’s largest nursing home chain, announced last week its Amherst location has created a dedicated, 22-bed unit for COVID-19 patients recently released from the hospital.
There has been at least one COVID-19 nursing home death in Western New York. A resident at Wyoming County Community Hospital's Skilled Nursing Facility died of the virus March 23.
Father Baker Manor has a total of 160 beds and is rated as a five-star facility by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. It had a total of 20 citations from March 2016 to March 2020. The statewide average was 30 citations.