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Local long term care facility now COVID-19 free

After two and a half months managing a COVID-19 outbreak, the Picayune Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center was able to declare itself COVID free in early June.

The center is currently COVID-19 free, and 103 residents and 134 employees have been tested, said Nexion spokesman Joe Gimenez via email.

According to previous coverage, during the outbreak the center had nine employee cases, 46 resident cases, with nine resident deaths. The nine employees and 37 of the residents who tested positive have recovered, said Gimenez.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, there was no time for anything but action, said the center’s administrator Keri Ladner via email.

“Navigating COVID-19 requires grit, endurance and trust but we always knew we would get through it stronger and thankful,” wrote Ladner.

To manage the outbreak, the center trained staff and residents on infection control practices, Ladner said via email. Many staff were cross trained to take on additional duties if needed and the team had to learn how to communicate virtually, said Ladner.

“We know that these circumstances can create fear or uncertainty but our staff showed up and fought the virus day in and day out,” wrote Ladner. “No one was going to let COVID-19 disrupt our ability to meet the needs of our residents.”

After managing the outbreak, Nexion plans four permanent changes to how the facility operates, said Gimenez. Nexion plans to manage risk by limiting movement within the facility and monitoring residents who have to leave the facility for medical care. The facility has switched to virtual communication meetings to practice social distancing. Staff is providing care in mini-communities instead of facility wide. The facility has also used telemedicine for physicians, physician extenders and evaluating therapists to meet resident needs during the outbreak recovery.

Ladner said the facility has implemented aggressive screening and testing protocols for staff and residents. Residents are tested when admitted and with the onset of signs or symptoms of COVID-19, said Gimenez, while staff are tested upon being hired and if they show any signs or symptoms of COVID-19.

“The virus has caused conditions for residents and staff to suffer increased incidents of depression, anxiety, stress and fatigue,” wrote Gimenez. “We are battling this through increased virtual and window visits with family and individualized in-room staff visits and activities.”

The facility is conducting a wellness survey to find out what support staff might need for the emotional and psychological impacts of the virus outbreak, said Gimenez.

Visitors are still not allowed in the facility, so families have been doing window visits or using Facetime to speak with residents, said Ladner.

According to the Mississippi State Department of Health there are two nursing homes in Pearl River County with active COVID-19 outbreaks: the Bedford Care Center of Picayune, with one resident case; and the Pearl River County Nursing Home with one staff case and one resident case. There have been 12 deaths total in long-term care facilities in Pearl River County.