3rd res­i­dent of Hen­rico re­hab fa­cil­ity dies

Dozens of other pa­tients show­ing signs of COVID-19

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - FRONT PAGE - BY MICHAEL MARTZ Richmond Times-Dis­patch

A third res­i­dent of a nurs­ing re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­ter in western Hen­rico County has died and nearly a dozen more pa­tients and four health care work­ers have been in­fected by a COVID-19 out­break in a highly vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tion.

Can­ter­bury Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion & Health­care Cen­ter con­firmed the third death Wed­nes­day, a day af­ter the an­nounce­ment that two res­i­dents had died from the virus, which at­tacks the res­pi­ra­tory sys­tem and has killed more than a dozen Vir­gini­ans.

Dr. James Wright, Can­ter­bury’s med­i­cal direc­tor, said in a state­ment Wed­nes­day that 14 res­i­dents have tested pos­i­tive in the past 11 days and two of those pa­tients are cur­rently hospi­tal­ized. Nine oth­ers are re­ceiv­ing treat­ment on­site at

Can­ter­bury in an iso­lated unit.

“The safety and health of Can­ter­bury res­i­dents and staff is our pri­mary con­cern,” Wright said.

“We are work­ing di­rectly with lo­cal and state health de­part­ments and tak­ing guid­ance from the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol pro­to­cols to help con­tain fur­ther spread of the virus.”

Hen­rico pub­lic health and govern­ment of­fi­cials say the cri­sis is far from over at the fa­cil­ity. An ad­di­tional three res­i­dents were taken to lo­cal hos­pi­tals on Wed­nes­day and dozens of other res­i­dents are show­ing symp­toms as­so­ci­ated with the virus, said Hen­rico County Man­ager John Vithoulkas.

Wright later con­firmed that three ad­di­tional res­i­dents had been trans­ported to lo­cal hos­pi­tals on Wed­nes­day, but de­clined to spec­u­late on the num­ber of po­ten­tial cases un­til test results are con­firmed.

“Many of these pa­tients will need hospi­tal interventi­on,” said Dr. Danny Avula, direc­tor of the Richmond and Hen­rico Health Dis­tricts. “They will need acute care.”

Hen­rico of­fi­cials said they were heart­ened by an hour­long con­fer­ence call on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the fa­cil­ity and its owner, Mar­quis Health Ser­vices, based in New Jer­sey. Mar­quis also owns skilled nurs­ing cen­ters in Alexan­dria and Colo­nial Beach on the North­ern Neck.

“We have a great line of com­mu­ni­ca­tion now,” said Vithoulkas, who had voiced frus­tra­tion af­ter be­ing un­able to reach the fa­cil­ity op­er­a­tor af­ter learn­ing of the ini­tial deaths on Tuesday.

The con­fer­ence call also in­volved the lead­ers of HCA Hen­rico Doc­tors’ Hospi­tal as lo­cal hospi­tal sys­tems pre­pare for a po­ten­tial surge of crit­i­cally ill pa­tients and a po­ten­tial short­age of nurses and aides to care for them in lo­cal nurs­ing homes and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­ters.

“We have 41 nurs­ing homes in our county,” Vithoulkas said. “As we move for­ward, we are go­ing to have to make sure that staffing is not an is­sue.”

Avula said that of­fi­cials at VCU Health Sys­tem also con­sulted with Can­ter­bury rep­re­sen­ta­tives on Wed­nes­day, as pub­lic health, lo­cal govern­ment, busi­nesses and higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions ral­lied to help the be­lea­guered nurs­ing fa­cil­ity.

Wright said Can­ter­bury is tak­ing part in ini­tia­tives with VCU, Bon Se­cours Mercy and HCA to in­crease staff ex­pe­ri­enced in pal­lia­tive care.

He said the fa­cil­ity has also part­nered with GENETWORx, a pri­vate lab in Glen Allen, for ex­pe­dited test­ing that will cut the process from up to 10 days to un­der 48 hours.

“Department of Health of­fi­cials are work­ing to get in touch with more nurses and we’re more con­fi­dent to­day than last week that we will have ev­ery­thing we need to con­tinue pro­vid­ing care to our pa­tients,” Wright said.

Vithoulkas said he per­son­ally has talked to busi­nesses and other in­sti­tu­tions about sup­ply­ing skilled health care work­ers, and the re­sponse has been over­whelm­ing.

“As dif­fi­cult as this is and will be in the days ahead, what I’m see­ing is good­ness,” he said. “It’s the good­ness of Richmond and our re­gion.”

Avula said the cen­ter has worked closely with his team af­ter re­port­ing the first pos­i­tive coro­n­avirus case a week ago. The sit­u­a­tion has wors­ened since he held a news con­fer­ence on Thurs­day to re­port the case. Epi­demi­ol­o­gists

ar­rived at the cen­ter the next day.

Can­ter­bury re­ported an ad­di­tional three to four pos­i­tive cases over the week­end and the num­ber grew to 10 by Mon­day, he said.

“This is a pretty over­whelm­ing sit­u­a­tion for them . ... Ev­ery­body is act­ing with the right in­ten­tions,” Avula said Wed­nes­day.

Avula said the cen­ter’s leadership was “ex­ceed­ingly proac­tive” about mea­sures to stop the spread of the virus in the fa­cil­ity, which houses about 160 peo­ple, many of them el­derly and frail.

“They’re do­ing a great job of staying in touch with the families,” he said af­ter the con­fer­ence call.

He said the sit­u­a­tion there is dif­fer­ent from West­min­ster Can­ter­bury, a re­tire­ment com­mu­nity in Hen­rico near Richmond’s North Side that re­ported a con­firmed case of COVID19 last week.

Can­ter­bury Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion is de­voted to di­rect care of vul­ner­a­ble res­i­dents, in­clud­ing phys­i­cal and oc­cu­pa­tional ther­apy that re­quires hands-on contact. In con­trast, West­min­ster Can­ter­bury is a con­tin­u­ing-care com­mu­nity that is home to more than 800 peo­ple, most of them in in­de­pen­dent liv­ing quar­ters.

“It’s a to­tally dif­fer­ent, ap­ples-and-or­anges sit­u­a­tion,” Avula said.

Lo­cal of­fi­cials are wait­ing for a de­ter­mi­na­tion by the Vir­ginia Department of Health on how to clas­sify 20 res­i­dents that the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­ter said Tuesday were show­ing symp­toms of the coro­n­avirus but had not been tested.

“Is there a need to test these in­di­vid­u­als or, be­cause of their symp­toms and contact with oth­ers, do we call them sus­pected or prob­a­ble cases?” Avula said.

“This is a pretty over­whelm­ing sit­u­a­tion for them.” Dr. Danny Avula, direc­tor of Richmond and Hen­rico Health Dis­tricts

JOE MA­HONEY/TIMES-DIS­PATCH

Four­teen res­i­dents of Can­ter­bury Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion & Health­care in western Hen­rico County have tested pos­i­tive for the coro­n­avirus in the past 11 days.

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