BREAKING NEWS

Employees at Cedar Rapids nursing home test positive for novel coronavirus

Two individuals, who tested positive Monday, have not been in building since Friday, officials say

Heritage Specialty Care, 200 Clive Dr. SW, is shown Tuesday in Cedar Rapids. Two employees there tested positive for COV
Heritage Specialty Care, 200 Clive Dr. SW, is shown Tuesday in Cedar Rapids. Two employees there tested positive for COVID-19 but hadn’t been at the nursing home since last Friday, officials told The Gazette. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Two employees at a Cedar Rapids-based nursing home have tested positive for COVID-19.

Heritage Specialty Care confirmed to The Gazette that two of its employees tested positive on Tuesday for the novel coronavirus, prompting officials to notify the Iowa Department of Public Health and begin the process of alerting families of residents and staff.

The workers, who were not identified, had not been at the facility since at least Friday and had not been feeling symptoms while at work, said a spokesman for West Des Moines-based Care Initiatives, which owns Heritage Specialty Care.

Officials could not say whether these employees are involved with direct patient care.

“Our main goal all along has been to try to maintain health and well-being of our residents and staff,” spokesman Jason Bridie said. “We better than anyone understand the vulnerabilities of the patient population we serve. We’ve been doing everything we can to limit the exposure of the COVID-19 virus and we’ll continue to do that.”

It was unclear how these individuals became infected with COVID-19.

Officials with Heritage Specialty Care, 200 Clive Dr. SW, said the state public health department is working to identify any individual who may have come into contact with the employees. The nursing home will take action based on the information learned from this investigation, Bridie said.

“The bottom line is it’s still too early for us to know where they may have contracted (COVID-19), but we have been contact with Linn County Public Health and we are taking their guidance for addressing this within our building,” he said.

At the moment, officials will encourage staff and residents to redouble efforts to wash hands frequently and sanitize surfaces. However, at this point, officials have not implemented any new policies in light of the announcement.

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The facility has restricted visitors since March 10, only allowing families into the building in end-of-life or compassionate care scenarios, such as hospice.

Employees must go through a screening process — which includes taking their temperature and asking about any symptoms — before entering the building for their shift.

Officials also have suspended communal dining and other group activities since March 10.

Heritage Specialty Care, one of 44 Iowa-based nursing homes owned by Care Initiatives, offers rehabilitation services, skilled nursing care and hospice care, according to its website.

As of Monday evening, more than 120 Iowans have tested positive for the respiratory virus across the state, including 6 individuals in Linn County and 37 individuals in Johnson County, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Comments: (319) 368-8536; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

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