JAA employee tests positive for COVID-19
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JAA employee tests positive for COVID-19

First case of the coronavirus reported at Charles Morris Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Charles Morris Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. (File photo)
Charles Morris Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. (File photo)

An employee at the Charles Morris Nursing and Rehabilitation Center has tested positive for COVID-19 and is now isolating at home, according to Debbie Winn-Horvitz, president and CEO of the Jewish Association on Aging.

This is the first positive case of COVID-19 reported by the JAA within any of its facilities.

Winn-Horvitz notified all JAA families in an April 26 letter to “reassure everyone that we are prepared, fully operational, and have recommended protocols in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus,” the letter read.

All residents and other employees who were potentially in contact with the person who tested positive for the virus were notified. Three employees who had been contact with the individual were in the process of being tested for the virus as of press time, although they were all asymptomatic, according to Winn-Horvitz.

As of press time, no residents at Charles Morris were displaying symptoms of COVID-19.

Pursuant to both JAA and Allegheny County Health Department protocols, “employees testing positive for the virus will not return to work until they have the appropriate medical clearance. We continue to take all of the added precautions we have put into effect throughout the organization to protect all of our residents and other team members,” the letter to families stated.

“We continue to assess all residents twice per day for any symptoms including fever, cough, shortness of breath, lethargy, gastrointestinal disturbances, etc.,” the letter continued. “Staff has been trained and is using proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to care for residents. Our housekeeping staff has been vigilant about cleaning high touch areas.”

Although nursing homes have been particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus, up until last week JAA facilities had not seen any cases in any of its facilities. It had taken proactive measures, such as requiring all staff to wear masks, and introducing rigorous hand-washing and social distancing protocols in an attempt to avoid the virus.

“This is what we have been preparing for,” Winn-Horvitz told the Chronicle. “We were clearly hoping that no one would test positive but we have been preparing for the inevitable. We are certainly hoping to mitigate this and keep the impact minimal.”

The board of JAA “has been regularly updated, increasingly involved, and completely supportive of the staff throughout this crisis,” said Andrew Stewart, chairman of the JAA’s board. “Debbie and her team continue to be proactive and aggressive in their approach to combating the coronavirus. Our entire community should be proud of the care our JAA residents have been receiving.” PJC

Toby Tabachnick

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