Coronavirus Cases Spike Among Burlington Nursing Home's Staff | Off Message

Coronavirus Cases Spike Among Burlington Nursing Home's Staff


Transporting patients from Burlington Health & Rehabilitation Center on Tuesday - JAMES BUCK
  • James Buck
  • Transporting patients from Burlington Health & Rehabilitation Center on Tuesday
Seven more staffers and three more residents at the Burlington Health & Rehabilitation Center have tested positive for the new coronavirus, the company said Thursday.

It's another worrisome sign from the site of Vermont's most concentrated outbreak, which has already killed six of the nursing home's elderly residents. 

With 26 total cases — nine staff and 17 residents — the Pearl Street facility accounted for more than a third of the 75 coronavirus cases in Chittenden County confirmed by the Vermont Department of Health as of Thursday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the Health Department's plan this week to evacuate 10 residents from the lower floor went sideways after a discovery that they, too, may have been exposed to someone with the virus.

Five rehab patients on the short-term care floor  were taken by ambulance Tuesday to the DoubleTree by Hilton, where the University of Vermont Medical Center had agreed to take over their care.

On Wednesday, the evacuations were halted, and patients at the DoubleTree were moved again — to the hospital.

The original plan fell apart for two reasons, UVM Medical Center said in a statement. First, the patients at the hotel ended up requiring care that was "slightly more intensive than expected."

Further, the statement said, "state health officials determined that a person with whom some of these patients may have come in contact has tested positive for COVID-19."

A spokesperson for Genesis HealthCare, the nursing home's parent company, did not specify whether that individual was a staff member or another resident. But as the evacuations were underway, reports surfaced that a woman who had been discharged from rehabilitative care at Burlington Health & Rehab less than two weeks ago had tested positive for the virus.

She was being quarantined in her room at the Residence at Quarry Hill, an eldercare facility in South Burlington, according to that home's parent company company, LCB Senior Living.

Albert Petrarca, one of the five patients transferred to the DoubleTree, said by email that caregivers came to his hotel room around 2 p.m. on Wednesday to take him to the hospital.

"I asked three different people why we were leaving the DoubleTree and no one had [a] reason I could understand," he wrote.

The rehab patients, who make up a small fraction of the 80-plus residents at Burlington Health & Rehab, may decide whether to receive the remainder of their care at the nursing home or be transferred to the UVM Medical Center, the organizations said.

The employees who tested positive in recent days were among 14 who were already under a precautionary quarantine. Genesis brought in more than a dozen nurses this week to make up for the staff shortage.

Burlington Health & Rehab and the Residence at Quarry Hill are the only two eldercare facilities in Vermont with confirmed coronavirus cases, the Health Department said.

Correction, March 26: A previous version of this story misstated the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Chittenden County.

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