Signature Healthcare announced Wednesday that 38 residents and 10 staff members at its Greeneville long-term care facility have tested positive for the coronavirus, with three of those residents dying from the illness.
“Signature HealthCARE of Greeneville recognizes, as the numbers rise throughout the county and fears grow in our community, the probability for misinformation and rumor is high,” stated a news release issued by the Louisville, Kentucky-based company. “Therefore, we would like to clarify our current numbers. As of the release of this statement, our Greenville facility has had 38 positive residents, and 10 positive staff.”
A Signature Healthcare representative confirmed that three residents who tested positive for the virus had died. The news released stated, “the majority … passed at partnering hospitals after a considerable amount of time at those facilities. However, regardless of where they passed, every one of our residents is like family and the loss is nothing short of devastating for all of us.”
The most recent Tennessee Department of Health report on long-term care facilities listed six Signature of Greeneville residents and four staff members as having tested positive for the virus, with no deaths. That report is generated weekly and released on Fridays.
Out of the 48 positive cases, one resident and four staff have recovered, according to the news release.
As a result of the numbers within the facility, Signature of Greeneville is creating a specialized COVID-19 unit, the release stated, as it has in almost four dozen of its facilities nationwide.
Greeneville’s COVID-19 unit will be isolated with barrier systems in place separating it from the rest of the facility. It will also have a separate air system, supplies, food, its own entrance, and staff who work only on the COVID-19 unit, according to the news release.
Personal protective equipment will be provided and worn per CDC guidelines. Signature HealthCARE of Greeneville has consulted with its infectious disease physician and infectious disease nurse, who have been providing guidance on the transition and who will monitor implementation and operation of the specialized unit. If a resident needs a higher level of care, that person will be transferred to a hospital.
Signature said it began a facility-wide testing strategy at select facilities, testing all residents and staff, when the first COVID-19 positive case surfaced. This strategy aims to quickly identify the scope of the virus in a facility and work to contain further spread.
Currently, Greeneville tests facility staff once every seven days, per the mandates of the Tennessee Department of Health and Gov. Bill Lee. Staff who experience symptoms and test positive for the virus do not return to work until they have been medically cleared.
As recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, the facility will continue repeat viral testing of all previously negative residents once a week, until testing identifies no new cases of the virus in residents or staff for a period of 14 days, according to the news release.
The responsible parties for each of the residents have been called and a family hotline has been created to provide updated information on residents.