Three deaths confirmed in Jefferson County nursing home COVID-19 outbreak

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — Three deaths attributed to COVID-19 are now being confirmed out of an outbreak at a skilled nursing facility in Jefferson County.

On Tuesday, Dr. Terrence Reidy, health officer for the Jefferson County Health Department, told The Panhandle News Network the initial positive case at Willow Tree Healthcare Center in Charles Town likely started with an asymptomatic person coming into contact with someone at the nursing home.

In all, 55 people have tested positive over the past two weeks — 38 residents and 17 staff members.

The Willow Tree site was one of more than 30 active outbreaks at long-term care facilities in West Virginia being reported through the state Department of Health and Human Resources as of Tuesday morning.

At nursing homes, a single case can be defined as an outbreak.

Infected residents and staff members at Willow Tree, a CommuniCare facility, were previously moved into a separate COVID-19 unit.

Two residents were hospitalized.

Reidy said the three residents who died had advanced directives indicating they did not want to be hospitalized.

The center at 1263 S. George St. in Charles Town is a skilled nursing facility that offers short-term recovery, senior rehabilitation and long-term care services, according to its website.

CommuniCare is the parent company of Willow Tree.  They released a statement saying, “We conduct weekly tests and unfortunately we have had some positive tests. Patients who test positive are immediately moved to a dedicated COVID unit that is sealed off from the rest of our facility.

We are taking numerous steps to stop the spread of this virus. Our dedicated staff members working in that unit enter and exit from an entrance used solely for the COVID unit so that they have no interaction with non-covid unit staff. Any staff member who starts to develop symptoms is immediately sent home for rest and treatment and we work with our doctors to evaluate when it is safe for them to come back to work.

We are also limiting in-person resident visitations. The only in-person visitation allowed is for compassionate care/end-of-life residents. These are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.”

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