COVID-19 spread in southern West Virginia reflected in patients at Beckley ARH

RALEIGH COUNTY, W.Va. — “Totally inaccurate” was how the community CEO for Beckley Appalachian Regional Healthcare Hospital described his facility’s characterization as an “outbreak” site for COVID-19.

“We’re testing more. We’re treating more and we’re healing more,” CEO Rocky Massey told MetroNews on Monday morning.

That was soon afternoon Governor Jim Justice identified the Raleigh County hospital as a coronavirus problem location during his Monday briefing at the State Capitol.

A weekend press release from his office previously named Beckley ARH as well.

“It’s just not the case that there’s an outbreak here at Beckley ARH,” Massey said. “Raleigh County is a hot spot, surrounding counties are even more of a hot spot.”

Rocky Massey

Early in the day Monday, the state Department of Health and Human Resources was reporting 68 active cases of COVID-19 in Raleigh County.

Active case numbers were at 124 in Mercer County, 118 in Logan County and 89 in Mingo County which Governor Justice specifically named during his briefing.

He attributed rising case numbers in those counties to virus “migration from the south.”

Also mentioned were Logan Regional Medical Center where 22 staff members and five patients had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Monday morning, according to Bill Crouch, DHHR secretary.

Assistant administrator Justin Turner released a statement to MetroNews Monday afternoon.

“We are working closely with the Logan County Health Department and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) and following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure the safety of our patients and staff members. Per CDC and DHHR guidelines, we have identified those who came in contact with these individuals and are following the appropriate protocols,” the statement said.

The Princeton Health Care Center in Mercer County had positives in 31 staff members and 33 residents, Governor Justice reported. Nineteen people connected to the Princeton Health Care Center were hospitalized.

On Monday morning, Massey said five COVID-19 patients from Mercer County arrived at Beckley ARH for treatment, bringing the total number of COVID patients there to 12.

Beckley ARH is a facility with 173 beds and 650 employees, according to hospital data, and serves counties throughout southern West Virginia.

Among staff members, Massey said there were 11 active cases as of Monday morning. Some of those employees were nearing the ends of their mandated quarantine periods.

He attributed the bulk of the positives in employees to community spread and travel.

Confirmations came out of stepped-up COVID-19 screenings and testing at Beckley ARH where visitor restrictions were again in effect

A free community COVID-19 testing event was underway Monday at the Beckley ARH Southern Clinic. Hundreds of people were expected to be tested.

A second testing event at the same site was scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 5.

“Nobody’s doing more tests. We’re identifying positives and, through identifying positives, we are reducing the spread. To characterize this as an outbreak is totally inaccurate,” Massey said.

“The outbreak or the hot spot itself is more indicative of Raleigh County as a whole.”

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