(LITITZ, Pa-LititzDailyNews.com) – Deaths at Luther Acres nursing home nearly doubled over the weekend in an explosive outbreak of COVID-19 at the Lititz Borough, Lancaster County long-term care facility that has sickened 57.
The number of residents believed to have died due COVID-19 at Luther Acres is 17, almost double the nine deaths reported on Saturday. Roughly a third of those residing at the 106-bed facility have contracted the disease or are presumed positive. Of those who became ill, over half have died.
The outbreak at Luther Acres has sickened a total of 57 so far, including 56 Healthcare Center residents and staff as well as one independent living resident, according to an statement made this afternoon by Luthercare, the non-profit organization that runs Luther Acres. SEE GRAPH BELOW STORY THAT SHOWS THE EXPLOSION OF COVID-19 AT LUTHER ACRES SINCE APRIL 7.
The explosive spread of the disease at Luther Acres is summed up in today’s announcement, but it does not reflect the suffering that has occurred on the campus over the past few weeks.
“33 residents have tested positive or are presumed positive, 17 have passed away and 7 have recovered,” the statement from spokesperson Amy Kenn reads. Since nine residents are omitted from mention in today’s announcement, it is presumed but not confirmed that they are currently ill with coronavirus.
“We have had 24 Healthcare Center employees test positive; 12 have returned to work,” the statement continues. The Healthcare Center, where an employee who worked on April 7 then reportedly developed COVID-19 symptoms at home after the shift was diagnosed with COVID-19, is the epicenter of the epidemic at Luther Acres.
A TIMELINE OF THE OUTBREAK AT LUTHER ACRES
LititzDailyNews.com was first to report that the outbreak likely began in the Healthcare Center on April 7, when an employee in the Healthcare Center’s secured memory care unit reportedly came to work asymptomatic, but developed symptoms of COVID-19 after returning home. Luthercare prohibited all outside visitors to skilled nursing starting on March 13. SEE GRAPH BELOW STORY THAT SHOWS THE EXPLOSION OF COVID-19 AT LUTHER ACRES SINCE APRIL 7.
The median length of incubation for this coronavirus before becoming ill with COVID-19 is 5 days, according to a study led by researchers at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. Anyone who may have been exposed to the virus on April 7 at Luther Acres would likely show symptoms by April 12, and if tested, would obtain results within a day or two under the prioritized system in place at the time.
By April 14, Luther Acres had three known cases: a resident in the Healthcare Center tested positive for COVID-19, as well as two staff members, per the Luthercare update.
Exactly one week later, on April 21, the organization announced the number of COVID-positive cases had jumped to 18 at Luther Acres, a six-fold increase. 15 residents and 3 staff members were known infected.
By April 29, the number of those afflicted with this disease at Luther Acres had more than doubled.
As of May 4, the number of new cases has increased slightly, but deaths have risen dramatically (SEE GRAPH BELOW).
LUTHER ACRES MANAGEMENT CHANGING SOME MEDICAL PRACTICES
After multiple staff and residents became ill, Luthercare announced it was changing some of its medical practices, shifting to “droplet precaution” protocol, and is now treating all residents as if they are ill.
The CDC standard Droplet Precaution protocol recommends that patients sharing a room be separated by 3 feet or more and that curtains be drawn between patient beds, a practice the agency says is especially important for patients in multi-bed rooms with infections transmitted by the droplet. Luthercare has not made any mention of instituting this important practice.
A study just published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases suggests that a 3-foot separation may not be sufficient in the case of coronavirus 2, the virus that causes COVID-19. That study references another study that documented the virus was found at a distance of 13 feet from a patient.
LARGEST OUTBREAK OF COVID-19 AT A LITITZ LONG-TERM CARE FACILITY
The outbreak at Luther Acres has now surpassed the outbreak at Brethren Village, where six residents have died from among the 24 total staff and residents who were infected. United Zion Retirement Community, where 13 are infected, saw its COVID cases double last week, and at least one resident has died. Landis Homes lost one resident, the only individual to test positive on the campus. An employee who answered the phone at Kadima-Lititz last Tuesday claimed that the facility has had no cases.
According to the Lancaster County Coroner’s Office report today, three-quarters of COVID-19 deaths in the county have occurred in long-term care facilities.
Pennsylvania has not released the names of facilities with cases of the coronavirus. Almost half of the 1,300 U.S. nursing homes with publicly identified coronavirus cases have recently been cited by inspectors for infection-control lapses, according to an article in The Washington Post.
A HISTORY OF VIOLATIONS AND FINES AT LUTHER ACRES
Luther Acres was fined $127,706 in 2018 for violations including neglect to a resident that resulted in injury when a resident was improperly lifted and suffered a fractured leg, according to an article on ProPublica, the inspection report on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid website, and the site survey inspections of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, which also found that the facility failed to ensure sanitation equipment functioned properly in the kitchen.
THE LUTHER ACRES COVID-19 CURVE (STORY CONTINUES BELOW CHART)
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Lynn Rebuck is the editor and publisher of award-winning LititzDailyNews.com, the only independent digital news source in Lititz. Lynn is an award-winning photojournalist who was invited to the White House and has received top recognition from the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association, Pennsylvania Women’s Press Association, National Society of Newspaper Columnists, and has been profiled in Editor & Publisher magazine for her unparalleled dedication to publishing LititzDailyNews.com to benefit the community.