Letter to the Editor: COVID-19 & Overbrook
As you know, the problem of outbreaks in long-term care facilities is unfortunately occurring across the State and the US and has been since COVID 19 invaded our world. It is very sad the toll it is taking on our entire society, especially our senior populace. The Meigs County Health Department laments the resulting hospitalizations and deaths of any of our citizenry including Overbrook Center residents as a result of this declared global, national, state and local emergency.
My question to your readers who question Overbrook Center’s response efforts is: Have you contacted Stephanie Cleland, the Overbrook Center’s Administrator, with your concerns and questions about her plans/efforts?
The Meigs County Health Department has been preparing for such a public health emergency for 20 years. Our dedicated staff is working with Overbrook Center and our County’s other long-term care facility (Arbors) and has been since before Meigs began experiencing wide community spread of the COVID 19 virus. Both facilities are under the auspices of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and passed ODH’s response survey with flying colors (which means they met or exceeded emergency preparedness standards and measures for this disease and other communicable disease outbreaks).
Overbrook Center has been cooperating with ODH and has been very transparent about the situation at their facility since the beginning. It is very unfortunate that the results of State-coordinated employee testing on July 22 did not return until Aug. 5 allowing the virus to circulate at the facility. This was no fault of Overbrook Center, who notified the MCHD immediately when positive results were received so we could begin the contact tracing process.
Unfortunately, we now are seeing locally how infectious this virus is. Despite orders (based on CDC guidance) that the Governor/ODH put in place and Overbrook Center’s Administration’s best efforts, the virus was brought into the facility. This outbreak is a major reason that the general public in our County need to be adhering to the social distancing guidance, facial covering mandate and other recommended public health measures. We need concerned citizens like your readers to encourage this compliance to limit future cases.
Meanwhile, the administration and staff at Overbrook Center have diligently worked to reduce the spread. The positive patients are being isolated and cared for in a designated part of the Overbrook Center facility. Positive employees are not allowed to work. Employees who are symptomatic are sent home and testing is being completed before they return to work. People who have tested positive for the virus can continue to test positive for up to 12 weeks following recovery, but are not infectious. The CDC/ODH guidance allows healthcare workers who are contacts of positive COVID cases to work with full PPE while quarantining at home while not at work. The guidance also states that healthcare workers only have to quarantine 10 days instead of 14 days. You may be aware that long-term care facilities typically are short-staffed so this guidance takes that into consideration.
I hope this letter helps to address your readers’ concerns. There are no easy or fast solutions to this problem. Prayers are certainly appreciated for all involved.
Courtney C. Midkiff, BSC
Meigs County Health Dept. Administrator