State: More than 300 people in Butler County nursing homes have tested positive

Hawthorn Glen Senior Living has reported 60 positive COVID-19 cases to its residents and staff, the most in Butler County, according to the newest data released by the Ohio Department of Health. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Hawthorn Glen Senior Living has reported 60 positive COVID-19 cases to its residents and staff, the most in Butler County, according to the newest data released by the Ohio Department of Health. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Butler County long-term care facilities and nursing homes continue to report increases in the number of residents and staff who have tested positive for the coronavirus.

But that’s not surprising since those facilities are “communal spaces by nature” and the population served are generally older adults with underlying health conditions, said Jennifer Bailer, Butler County health commissioner.

The combination of close living quarters and population served puts those living in long-term care facilities at an “increased risk” of infection from COVID-19, she said.

In March, Gov. Mike DeWine ordered that senior care facilities be closed to visitors in hopes of reducing the spread of the virus. Then last month, he loosened the restrictions, allowing for outside visitations.

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Twenty-four senior care facilities in Butler County report their numbers of positive COVID-19 cases for residents and staff to the Ohio Department of Health, which releases weekly totals.

Butler County reported 226 residents and 92 employees who tested positive and 32 residents who have died since April 15, according to ODH. Of the 24 facilities in the county, five of them, or 21 percent, reported 62 percent of the total cases.

Hawthorn Glen’s two facilities off Ohio 4 in Monroe reported 60 cases, including 47 residents and 13 staff members.

Tri-County Extended Care in Fairfield reported 31 residents and 11 staffers tested positive, followed by Parkside Nursing Home in Fairfield, with 32 residents and two staffers.

When asked about the spike in cases at Hawthorn Glen, the director told the Journal-News she had no comment.

Jackie Phillips, Middletown’s health commissioner, said Hawthorn Glen is monitored by the Butler County General Health District. But she said, in general, there are a number of ways the virus can “penetrate the wall” of the facility.

Bailer said public health’s role is to serve as a resource and a consultant and provide infection prevention strategies, ensure that facilities have enough personal protection equipment by linking them to the local Emergency Management Agency, and to work with them to “implement isolation and quarantine procedures.”

In Ohio, 10,940 long-term care residents and 6,167 staff members have tested positive for the COVID-19 since April 15, according to the ODH. Of those, 2,262 have died.

This week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced it will require facilities to test staff regularly or face fines. The move comes months after the White House first urged governors to test all nursing home residents and staff. With residents, nursing homes are being required to offer them coronavirus tests if there is an outbreak or if any show symptoms.

“While CMPs (civil monetary penalties) are not new, we are disappointed that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services chose to employ this punitive approach,” said Patrick Schwartz, spokesman for LeadingAge Ohio, which represents long-term care providers such as nursing homes.

“LeadingAge Ohio believes that nursing homes need more support — not a pile-on of punishments — as they struggle to manage the COVID pandemic.”

In Ohio, nursing home resident deaths have climbed, as the coronavirus can enter a nursing home by a staff member that might not know they are sick, spread quickly among people living in close quarters, and cause severe illness or death among an older population with often multiple underlying conditions.

The testing requirement for staff will be keyed to the level of virus activity in local areas. If the positive rate is below 5%, nursing homes will have to test staff once a month. If the rate is 5% to 10%, testing will be required once a week. If the rate is above 10%, staff will have to be tested twice a week.

Florida, Iowa and Nevada are examples of states where the COVID-19 positive rate is now above 10%. About 4% of coronavirus tests in Ohio are coming back positive, though the number changes.

Starr Writer Kaitlin Schroeder contributed to this report.

BUTLER COUNTY LONG-TERM FACILITY COVID-19 CASES

Here are the top five Butler County long-term facilities in regards to the number of positive coronavirus cases reported from April 15 to Aug. 26:

Name, Residents positive, Staff positive, Total

  • Hawthorn Glen, 47, 13, 60
  • Tri-County Extended Care, 31, 11, 42
  • Parkside Nursing Home, 34, 2, 36
  • Garden Manor Nursing Home, 20, 12, 32
  • Oxford Healthcare, 18, 10, 28

SOURCE: Ohio Department of Heath