NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – A Norman nursing home has dozens of positive COVID-19 cases and the most coronavirus deaths in the state.
Grace Living Center has 36 positive cases of COVID-19. Also, there have been four deaths because of coronavirus at the nursing home, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
It is by far the highest number of positive COVID-19 cases within an Oklahoma nursing home. Also, no other nursing home in the state has had a coronavirus-related death, according to OSDH.
Of the 36 positive cases, 33 are residents and three are Grace Living Center staff members.
Many Grace Living residents were found to be positive for COVID-19 after Grace officials implemented aggressive testing through a private lab in Norman.
Grace officials issued the following statement on the current number of COVID-19 cases and deaths at the facility:
“As indicated by the Facility in its statement of March 30th, over the previous weekend, the facility medical director began utilizing IMMY labs, a private lab in Norman, to facilitate aggressive testing of patients in the facility. The facility’s voluntary decision to implement exhaustive testing was one of the many ways in which it is attempting to fight the spread of COVID 19 within the facility and best serve its residents.
As a result of that testing, the Facility was able to confirm as positive many individuals who were already presumed positive and many others who may not have otherwise been tested. All results were shared with the individuals involved and the appropriate authorities including the Oklahoma State Department of Health. The Facility also shared with the media the fact that additional aggressive testing had taken place and the fact that positive cases were confirmed. However, out of respect for the privacy of the individuals involved, and more specifically at the request of many of our families, specific numbers were not released. It is our understanding that the Oklahoma State Department of Health has now chosen to release numbers in response to a Freedom of Information Act request served by the media. The facility’s first obligation, however, remains with the residents and families that it serves; we will therefore continue to honor our commitment to them to provide relevant information to the public and specific information to state agencies but will not independently release specific numbers or comment upon individual cases.
We greatly appreciate the support and prayers we have received from the community and continue to ask for their thoughts and prayers. We have lost valued members of our home and that loss cannot be measured. However, we will continue to work daily to protect our residents and hope the medical community can begin to develop more and better ways to address the effects of this pandemic. We will also continue to work and pray for a favorable outcome for each person impacted and ask for the public’s prayers and support toward that end as well. Finally, we want to again say thank you to our staff, who are working tirelessly on the front line every day to care for the most vulnerable among us.”
Care Providers Oklahoma, the association representing Oklahoma’s skilled nursing facilities, recently called upon state leaders to take action to better protect nursing home residents and workers from COVID-19.
Steven Buck, Care Providers Oklahoma President and CEO, released the following statement regarding the numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Oklahoma nursing homes:
“When it comes to COVID-19, we serve the most vulnerable population at the highest risk for serious illness or death in the state. The fact that these numbers are not significantly higher is remarkable and is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our skilled nursing staff, especially given the well-documented lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and tests. Unfortunately, just as we have seen across the state and the country, we expect these numbers to rise and for things to get worse before they get better.
To help contain this virus and save as many lives as possible, we need more help. That help needs to come in the form of more PPE. It needs to come in the form of more tests, especially testing of residents that are coming to us from hospitals. When someone is hospitalized and treated for COVID, we need a place to move them to a facility where they can be quarantined and treated, not live in one of our facilities among a healthy but very vulnerable population. Finally, we need emergency financial assistance from the state to be able to continue shouldering the costs of the additional gear and staffing needs this crisis has necessitated.”