Long term care facilities put on watch lists but updates lag

Medford, ore. — Long-term care facilities across the state are on the lookout for coronavirus amongst residents. Oregon’s Department of Human Services has even created a list keeping track of confirmed and suspected cases in facilities.

Dozens of assisted living facilities and nursing homes have already been added to the lists since the end of March. That was the time when many of those facilities went on lockdown after finding suspected cases from either staff or residents. However, the data currently being released has a caveat.

“Most of the numbers that you’re seeing have to do with lag time and testing,” said Dr. Jim Shames, public health officer for Jackson County.

Over a dozen facilities between Jackson and Josephine County are on the list for suspected cases. No facilities have been placed on the confirmed case list. DHS says every facility must report any case of symptoms, no matter what it might be, meaning they’re immediately placed on the list. However, they must wait until testing comes back to confirm whether they’re safe to reopen.

In Josephine County, health officials know of one facility that faces that dilemma.

“The outbreak of respiratory illness in this long term care facility continues but it is not coronavirus,” said Dr. David Candelaria, public health officer for Josephine County.

DHS also says numbers released this week are from data collected last Friday. For example, this Monday the Rogue Valley Manor confirmed a staff member tested positive, but as of Thursday, it’s still listed as a suspected case on the DHS list. County health officials say these facilities aren’t taking any chances, so the slightest bug or flu puts them there.

“That facility has to shut down until we can establish a diagnosis,” said Dr. Shames in regards to any facility that finds symptoms.

It’s a safety net to prevent further spread and exposure to residents. A facility marked on the list must go into a near lockdown and put a flier from DHS restricting any access to the facility. It must remain there until tests come back negative. Health officials say with test results still facing delays, the data is slow to update as well. Though that is expected to improve.

Dhs has set guidelines for facilities to follow to maintain safety for residents and staff. Updates are done twice weekly on Tuesdays and Fridays however DHS says facilities can be removed from the list between updates.

To find out more about what facilities are on the list you can visit the DHS website or call the facility to see if they have been removed or not.

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