EAST LACKAWANNOCK TOWNSHIP — Positive tests at a single nursing home have accounted for more than one-fourth of Mercer County’s new COVID-19 cases so far in July.
Management at the Quality Life Services center at 8221 Lamor Road reported that 26 residents and 14 staff members at the center are being quarantined in a COVID-19 “red” isolation unit, according to a letter posted July 17.
The company, which has 10 locations including another in Grove City, offers skilled nursing, personal care, home health, hospice and pharmacy services, has a “test tracking tool” on its website to show the number of residents and employees tested for the virus.
“We update that daily,” said Mary Susan Yurek, chief quality officer of Quality Life Services. The company is family-owned and has corporate offices in Butler.
Including seven new cases reported Friday, there have been 150 positive COVID-19 cases this month in Mercer County. The East Lackawannock center for Quality Life Services has reported 40 cases.
Yurek said Quality Life Services has taken steps, including using the isolation unit, to stem the virus, and no new cases have been reported since July 17.
In a July 17 letter, Quality Life Services reported that an employee at the East Lackawannock Township facility tested positive for the virus on July 7. In response, universal testing of all residents and staff was expedited and completed on July 9.
Quality Life Services’ testing was part of a regimen of testing staff and residents at all of Quality Life Services 10 locations after an order from Gov. Tom Wolf and the state Department of Health.
Yurek said it would be difficult to determine whether the employee who first tested positive brought COVID-19 into the nursing home, or if the employee contracted it there.
The company’s July 23 letter addressed to residents and family members said the latest results showed that the 26 residents and 16 employees who tested positive are associated with the nursing home, and that no one in Quality Life Services’ personal care section has tested positive.
The facility is conducting additional tests to confirm the results. Also, residents or employees suspected of having the virus are considered “positive” and tested again, Yurek said.
“Our motto is ‘transparency,’” she said.
Staff members who tested positive but show no symptoms are working in the “red” isolation unit with other patients suspected of being positive for the virus.
Yurek said Quality Life Services representatives provide regular updates with the families of residents.
“They can call us any time,” she said.
One resident was taken to a hospital and is in stable condition. That resident had other health issues before testing positive for the virus, so Yurek couldn’t say if the hospitalization is related to COVID-19 or another cause.
Yurek said the facility is following guidelines recommended by government agencies, and visitors are not allowed at the East Lackawannock Township location. Management is reviewing plans to resume visitation at the company’s other locations.
The visitor restriction has been difficult for everyone, and Yurek said the staff has been working hard to facilitate communication — by phone calls, emails and video chats —between residents and their loved ones.
Residents, staff and other essential personnel are screened daily for signs of the virus, and the company communicates regularly with local and state health officials. She said Quality Life Services has a sufficient supply of personal protective equipment, and it was well-equipped to respond to the virus.