PITTSBURGH — The state has issued new guidance for Pennsylvanians living at nursing homes and their families as they grapple with COVID-19.
The virus has killed almost 4,800 nursing home residents since the start of the pandemic, which is more than two-thirds of all the deaths in the state.
Nursing home residents are among the most vulnerable when it comes to coronavirus, and there is an increase in cases at some facilities that have had outbreaks in the past, as well as a few significant jumps at nursing homes that had no cases.
Channel 11 pored over the latest numbers on COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania nursing homes since the beginning of July to see if they’ve seen a spike that correlates with the spike we’re seeing across Pennsylvania.
11 Investigates’ Angie Moreschi noticed a spike in cases at one specific nursing home in Allegheny County.
West Hills Rehab and Wellness Center in Coraopolis went from zero cases and zero deaths reported to the Pennsylvania Department of Health at the end of June to nearly 50 cases and 22 deaths as of this week.
Moreschi called West Hills about its spike in cases, and a spokesperson responded quickly, attributing the increase to testing in June.
“Many of the residents are asymptomatic,” the spokesperson said in a statement, adding that they are continuing “to take significant measure to protect all residents and staff.”
“We know this is an unsettling and scary time,” the spokesperson said, adding that they “are doing everything in their power to keep residents safe and protected.”
“It’s very alarming because what we’ve seen in every study we’ve looked at, community spread equals spread in our long-term care facilities,” said Zack Shamberg, with the Pennsylvania Healthcare Association.
The data also showed a spike in cases for Monroeville Rehab and Wellness. After zero cases in June, there's been a jump to nine resident cases and five among employees.
Moreschi also called Monroeville Rehab and Wellness, as well as emailed questions, but as of Friday afternoon, she had not received a response.
It is owned by the same company that owns Brighton Rehab, which was at the center of a major outbreak in May. This week, Brighton only reported two new cases among staff.
The Allegheny County-run Kane facility in Glen Hazel did see a spike with about a dozen new cases.
“Our calls for testing and our calls for PPE for all nursing homes are gonna be even louder, especially with higher numbers,” Shamberg said.
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Some nursing homes are not reporting data at all.
Despite a state and national mandate, according to the state, 130 nursing home are either not reporting or not providing updated information on COVID-19 cases. Among them is a prominent one in Allegheny County, St. Barnabas in Gibsonia, which last reported 62 cases and 31 deaths June 10.
Most facilities in the region are not seeing major increases and seem to be managing fairly well.
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