Update: Chatuge Regional Nursing Home employee tests positive for COVID-19

Health, News
chatuge regional nursing home

UPDATE: April 27

HIAWASSEE, Ga – On April 27, Georgia Department of Community Health Long-Term Care Facility reported revealed a Chatuge Regional Nursing Home employee tested reported tested positive for COVID-19.

Previously, Community Health listed a resident of the nursing home as positive for COVID-19, bringing the facility total up to two.

Union County Nursing Home also has two confirmed cases – one patient and one employee.

Original Story Below

HIAWASSEE, Ga -The Georgia Department of Community Health reported that one Chatuge Regional Nursing Home resident has tested positive for COVID-19 on April 24.

As of April 24, no nursing home employees are listed as positive for COVID-19. However, an employee at Union County Nursing Home Regional was confirmed as positive on April 23.

Chatuge Regional is home to 108 residents. Union County Nursing Home accommodates 138 residents according to community health.

Union General Health System (UGHS) now has two confirmed employee cases since April 10 – one in Towns and one in Union. The health system’s policy doesn’t allow them to discuss employee or patient matters.

Both facilities previously closed the buildings to visitors and limited meals to in-room dining. UGHS has assured Fetch Your News multiple times that the system follows all CDC protocols for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Residents in both nursing homes are considered high-risk by the CDC and W.H.O. Several long-term care facilities across the country have been ravaged by COVID-19 including ones in Athens and Macon, Ga.

The CDC website stated that older patients may not exhibit typical COVID-19 symptoms, “such as fever or respiratory symptoms. Atypical symptoms may include new or worsening malaise, new dizziness, or diarrhea. Identification of these symptoms should prompt isolation and further evaluation for COVID-19.”

The National Guard first visited Union County Nursing Home on April 22 to begin cleaning out the facility and will continue to clean out health system buildings this weekend.

Once COVID-19 enters a facility, the CDC guidelines recommend “restricting all residents to their rooms and having HCP wear all recommended PPE for care of all residents (regardless of symptoms) on the affected unit (or facility-wide depending on the situation). This includes: an N95 or higher-level respirator (or facemask if a respirator is not available), eye protection, gloves, and gown. HCP should be trained on PPE use including putting it on and taking it off.”

With the high risk of unrecognized infection among residents, everyone in the facility must follow the outlined measures. Experience with the virus suggests that a “substantial proportion of residents could have COVID-19 without reporting symptoms or before symptoms develop.”

Facilities also are recommended to have a separate area to care for patients confirmed or suspected of having COVID-19. Ill residents must be checked at least three times daily to quickly determine if the level of care must be escalated.

Public health can assist in making decisions about testing asymptomatic residents.

Neighboring facilities with confirmed COVID-19 cases

The Blue Ridge Assisted Living and Memory Care facility has two employees who tested positive for COVID-19.

Pruitt Health Blue Ridge has one positive patient.

Dahlonega Assisted Living and Memory Care has one positive employee.

Please keep all these individuals and residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities in your thoughts and prayers are this time.

Chatuge Regional employee tests positive for COVID-19

Health, Press Release
chatuge regional

HIAWASSEE, Ga – On April 10, 2020, Union General Health System issued the following release concerning a Chatuge Regional Employee who has tested positive for COVID-19. Towns County Health Department received notification at the time of test.

The employee last worked at Chatuge on April 2 and wasn’t exhibiting symptoms at that time. Their positive test came back on April 9. Fetch Your News asked a Union General Hospital representative who decided to administer a COVID-19 test. They didn’t know as they weren’t there at the time.

The representative did confirm that the employee was definitely asked to isolate and follow CDC guidelines like all Union General Health System employees.

Part of the CDC guidelines and Union General’s protocol includes wearing all proper medical attire when entering a patient’s room, so inpatients should have experienced minimal exposure to the positive employee. The press release also stated that no inpatients are currently suspected of having COVID-19.

Read the entire release below:

Union General Health System implements best practices in compliance with CDC and DPH guidance.  Patient safety and ensuring the highest quality of care is a priority for the entire Union General Health System. As a community partner, Union General seeks to ensure that the community has accurate information and to ensure that inaccurate statements are corrected.

Specifically, Chatuge Regional Hospital has one employee that tested positive for COVID-19.  The employee last worked at Chatuge on Thursday, April 2. The employee had no symptoms while working last week.

The employee was instructed to isolate and distance from other people per the CDC guidelines upon being tested. Notification was made to the Towns County Public Health Department at the time of the test, and the positive result was returned on Thursday, April 9. The employee will not return to work until clear of COVID-19 infection per the CDC guidelines. Anyone with a potential exposure to this employee will be contacted and given instructions on self-monitoring and offered testing as per the CDC and Georgia DPH guidelines. It is believed that this employee’s infection is likely related to a community exposure as no suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients are being treated as inpatients at Chatuge Regional Hospital.

Our employees have received education on COVID-19 signs and symptoms and the CDC guidelines surrounding this illness, including isolation precautions. All employees are screened daily prior to working with temperature check and screened for any signs or symptoms of COVID-19. Union General Health System continues to monitor CDC and CMS guidance related to COVID-19 and will continue to collaborate with the Department of Public Health.

Fetch Your News will update this story as more information becomes available.

Union General releases new guidelines, designates sick and well clinics

Health, News, Press Release
union general health system

BLAIRSVILLE, Ga – In a press release issued by Union General Health System, the medical facility is updating its operating procedures and establishing sick and well clinics in the community.

In response to the Blairsville City Council’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Emergency Ordinance, Union General Health System will no longer perform elective procedures/diagnostic testing, until further notice. The decision to perform procedures will be on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the patient’s physician, based on the needs of the patient.

*If you have a procedure or diagnostic testing that has already been scheduled, you will be contacted by the hospital if it needs to be postponed or rescheduled.

Beginning on Monday, March 30th, Union General Health System will designate certain clinics as either sick clinics or well clinics.  Union General Family Medicine will be designated as a sick clinic seeing both sick children and sick adults, Union General Pediatrics will be designated as a well clinic only performing well-child visits and the Union General Hospital Young Harris Clinic will be designated as a well clinic only performing well-adult visits.

As a reminder, for the safety and well-being of our patients and staff, Union General Hospital and Chatuge Regional Hospital, are currently on lockdown, until further notice. All doors are locked and will remain locked except the Main Entrance/Emergency Room Entrance at Union General Hospital and the Emergency Room Entrance at Chatuge Regional Hospital. No visitors will be allowed until further notice.

If you need treatment at either facility, a wellness screening will be performed. A series of questions will be asked and your temperature will be taken. If you have a fever and respiratory symptoms and have traveled within a widespread affected area within the past 14 days, or had exposure to someone with a confirmed COVID-19 case, please ask for a mask immediately.

All Union General Health System affiliated facilities have taken COVID-19 precautions. Some of these include, the Union County Nursing Home and Chatuge Regional Nursing Home are no longer allowing any visitors into their facility to help protect the health of their residents. The Union General Wellness Center and Union General Hospital Suches Clinic have closed indefinitely to help reduce the spread of the virus.

Union General told Fetch Your News that its respective nursing homes are following CDC guidelines for long-term care facilities. These guidelines include:

  • Restrict all visitation except for certain compassionate care situations, such as end of life situations
  • Restrict all volunteers and non-essential healthcare personnel (HCP), including non-essential healthcare personnel (e.g., barbers)
  • Cancel all group activities and communal dining
  • Implement active screening of residents and HCP for fever and respiratory symptoms

COVID-19 is being increasingly reported in communities across the United States. It is likely that SARS-CoV-2 will be identified in more communities, including areas where cases have not yet been reported. As such, nursing homes should assume it could already be in their community and move to restrict all visitors and unnecessary HCP from the facility; cancel group activities and communal dining; and implement active screening of residents and HCP for fever and respiratory symptoms.

Here’s a copy of the CDC emergency preparedness checklist for nursing homes.

For more information on COVID-19 and the latest updates to Union General Health Systems facilities, please visit www.UnionGeneralHealthSystem.com.

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