With the recent outbreak at Graham Healthcare & Rehabilitation in mind, the long-term care facility issued the following statement today:
"Ensuring our residents and staff are in a safe and healthy environment has been our primary concern since the onset of this unprecedented pandemic. For the past seven months Graham Healthcare and Rehabilitation has been committed to infection control, surveillance, and testing. We were able to procure personal protective equipment (PPE) that was not widely available, and we continue to have an adequate supply. We thoroughly screen residents and staff for signs and symptoms of the virus, and in early March we began testing for COVID-19 before test kits were widely available. Testing is key to the identification of the virus because many individuals are positive for COVID-19 without any symptoms. To date, we have implemented nearly 70 guidelines that help us to respond to the everchanging nature of this virus.
The spread of COVID-19 continues throughout the state, impacting all areas, including Graham County, creating greater risk for our facility. The following image illustrates the severity of COVID-19 in Graham County and surrounding areas. As indicated, there are COVID-19 hotspots in nearby communities, as represented by darker colors, that puts us all at risk:
Until recently, and because of these efforts, we experienced minimal COVID activity here at Graham, although, as evidenced above, the virus continues to be widespread throughout North Carolina. While following strict surveillance testing practices and routinely monitoring our residents and staff we discovered that the virus is present in our facility and has spread. We, like you, are deeply concerned about the welfare of our residents, our staff, and our community and are saddened by this outbreak.
Although this is an unparalleled challenge, each day we learn more about the virus and apply those lessons to the delivery of care. We have isolation units created throughout our company and now have expanded our isolation unit here at Graham, which allows us to provide focused care for our residents with the virus. We want to thank the Graham County Department of Public Health for their support and assistance in guiding us through this difficult time.
We are confident that we will overcome this situation. Ultimately, though, nursing homes like Graham will continue to remain at high risk for outbreaks until a vaccine or therapeutic treatment is developed.
Graham is a small and proud community in which our facility has safely cared for the elderly for decades. The best defense against COVID-19 remains vigilance by everyone. We continuously reinforce with our staff and residents the need to practice appropriate infection control measures both at the facility and in the community, including the use of face-masks, hand washing, and social distancing. We need our general community in Graham County to adopt similar practices to protect the most vulnerable in our community. We must unite together during these unprecedented times to keep each other safe. Please join us in prayer for the healing of our residents and staff who have tested positive for COVID-19."