OSWEGATCHIE — United Helpers reports nine residents at the Ogdensburg Rehabilitation and Senior Care facility have died since Thanksgiving, all having tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Formerly called RiverLedge Nursing Home, the 8101 Route 68 location has confirmed more than 100 positive coronavirus test results since the weekend of Nov. 21, when an outbreak first began.
Stacey L. Cannizzo, United Helpers vice president of quality improvement, said a positive case was logged Nov. 21, with 135 cases — 85 residents and 53 staff — confirmed as of Friday morning.
The first fatality was reported on Thanksgiving, and two residents are currently hospitalized, according to the organization. By Thursday, seven deaths were reported, and two additional deaths were reported Friday morning.
With roughly 300 employees, the Ogdensburg facility is currently home to 142 people.
Less than a mile southwest of the city limits, the Ogdensburg facility is located within the town of Oswegatchie, where the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department reports 108 active cases as of noon Thursday. The department reports 66 active cases for Ogdensburg, second highest in the county to Oswegatchie.
On Monday, United Helpers confirmed three resident and two staff member cases at the Canton Rehabilitation and Senior Care facility, 205 Canton-Madrid Road. As of Thursday, the Canton site reports seven resident and two staff-member cases, as well as one staff case and one resident case from the Assisted Living complex. No hospitalizations or deaths have been reported at the Canton locations.
No active positive cases have been reported at United Helpers’ several other residential facilities in the county.
A handful of other cases — the individuals have since recovered — have been reported at the Lisbon Individualized Residential Alternative and the Canton Rehabilitation and Senior Care site over the last seven months.
For those not working in a post-acute care environment, Ms. Cannizzo said, trying to understand a COVID-19 outbreak may seem like “trying to nail gelatin to a tree.”
But United Helpers health care professionals, she added, have been planning for potential outbreaks for months, working with the state Department of Health, the county Public Health Department and St. Lawrence Health System on a regular basis to strategize.
“While no agency can say that they are completely prepared for something like a pandemic, the United Helpers’ teams have worked diligently to put in every effort to plan appropriately for an outbreak,” she said.
Ms. Cannizzo said United Helpers is fortunate to have “sufficient” personal protective equipment on hand at all of the organization’s facilities, and continues to receive PPE shipments, expedited by suppliers. McKesson Corporation, a medical supply distributor, is fulfilling a recent United Helpers order of 50,000 gowns, 20,000 surgical masks, 5,000 face shields, 1,000 N95 masks and additional testing kits, Ms. Cannizzo said.
When positive cases are identified, she said, increased use of PPE is implemented, isolation of infected residents begins and infected staff members are directed to quarantine until cleared by the Public Health Department.
With tests administered every few days, about 700 are conducted weekly at the Ogdensburg facility, and 350 are conducted at the Canton facility. Lag time for returned results — due to the “sheer volume of tests” being processed by area hospitals and labs — typically delays a complete picture of positive cases.
“It will take a few rounds of testing before we understand exactly how many individuals were affected by the recent outbreak,” Ms. Cannizzo said. “We continue to follow protocol and we are profoundly grateful for the outpouring of community support that we have received.”
Visitation at both the Ogdensburg and Canton Rehabilitation and Senior Care locations is suspended until further notice.