Seventy percent of the residents in Eden Rehabilitation & Nursing Center tested positive last week for Covid-19, making it one of the hardest-hit nursing homes in Erie County.
A total of 28 residents in the 40-bed nursing home were infected with the coronavirus for the week ending last Saturday, according to the Erie County Health Department, which two weeks ago began releasing weekly tallies of infections at facilities where the Covid-19 positivity rate was 5% or more.
The Health Department identified four other nursing homes that more than met the criteria with double-digit percentages:
• Garden Gate Health Care Facility in Cheektowaga, 184 beds, had 34 residents test positive, which translated into a positivity rate of 18.5%.
• GreenField Health & Rehabilitation Center in Lancaster, 160 beds, 28 residents tested positive, 17.5%.
• Autumn View Health Care Facility in Hamburg, 230 beds, 33 residents tested positive, 14.3%.
• Harris Hill Nursing Facility in Lancaster, 192 beds, 27 residents tested positive, 14.1%.
GreenField, which was one of three facilities identified in the Health Department’s first list for the week ending Nov. 14, experienced an increase in cases, going from 12 residents to 28.
Autumn View, which had 51 cases in the county’s initial list, decreased to 28, and Elderwood at Grand Island, which had five cases, did not meet the criteria for the list representing the week ending Nov. 21.
In releasing the numbers, Erie County Health Commissioner Gale R. Burstein said some of the infections may include test results for residents who fall into the category of “persistent positives.”
Many show no symptoms
Christopher E. Koenig, chief executive officer of Niagara Lutheran Health System, which operates the GreenFields Continuing Care Community, said that the positivity rates do not tell the entire story and that there is some good news as the pandemic persists.
“We do have some folks who have persistently tested positive for the last couple months. Sometimes they’ll be positive, then negative, and then test positive again. It’s because the sensitivity of the testing is pretty high. But by that time, some will already be through the recovery period,” he said.
In discussions with other nursing home operators, Koenig said they have found that many of the individuals now testing positive do not exhibit symptoms of the virus.
“The vast majority of the cases are asymptomatic. It’s good news for the medical stability of the patients. They don’t seem to be declining like when it hit us in late spring and early summer,” Koenig said.
Even with that bright spot, he added, “We still have the Covid headache, quarantining and full personal protective equipment. Obviously, that routine is important.”
When GreenField staff members test positive and are notified of the finding, Koenig said, the workers are often surprised, since they were not experiencing symptoms.
Overall, he said the figures on infections at nursing homes should come as no surprise since they have been occurring throughout the pandemic. “There’s nothing to hide here. We are all trying to get through this together,” Koenig said.
"This allows our caregivers to make decisions within minutes of discovering that someone, even if they are asymptomatic, tested positive. Overall, this means the wider residential and staff population are protected much faster and more effectively than if they had to wait three to five days for test results. But it also means that test result numbers are reported faster to the required health authorities, keeping McGuire facilities on county DOH lists," Newman said.