CORONAVIRUS

No new coronavirus cases at Heritage Specialty Care for 28 days

Site of state's worst long-term care outbreak now off the list

Resident Unita Schliemann smiles up at her daughter Roberta (left) and son Mark Maas at Heritage Specialty Care in Cedar
Resident Unita Schliemann smiles up at her daughter Roberta (left) and son Mark Maas at Heritage Specialty Care in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, April 16, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
/

CEDAR RAPIDS — Heritage Specialty Care, a Cedar Rapids skilled nursing center designated as having the worst coronavirus outbreak among long-term care facilities in the state, is now off the blacklist.

It has reported no new outbreaks for two consecutive incubation periods of the virus, or 28 days, which officials said qualifies for its removal.

Heritage was the first long-term care facility in Linn County to have an outbreak of COVID-19. And even as outbreaks at other long-term care facilities around the state grew, Heritage continued to show the most cases.

A total of 114 residents and staff tested positive for the virus; 26 residents died of it; and 85 people recovered from it at the 201-certified bed facility.

“We are grateful that our staff and residents are again healthy and we appreciate the support of Linn County Public Health during this outbreak,” Heritage administrator Nick Jedlicka said in a statement. “I would also like to thank our dedicated staff who made it possible for Heritage to work through such a difficult situation.”

Heritage worked with the Iowa Department of Public Health and Linn County Public Health to stop the spread of the coronavirus among residents and staff. It limited visitors, screened staff and residents for symptoms and changed workflows to prevent spreading the virus to residents who were well.

A spokesman for Care Initiatives, the West Des Moines company that owns Heritage, said the facility will continue its mitigation practices, which include suspending communal dining and group activities and restricting visitors while continuing to use personal protective gear among the staff.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

As the state allows more businesses and entertainment venues to reopen, Heritage officials “will continue to follow (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and IDPH guidelines,” said Jason Bridie, a Care Initiatives spokesman.

“We also want to impress upon the community to remain vigilant in following recommended guidelines of social distancing and washing hands,” Bridie wrote in an email to The Gazette. “The less prevalent COVID-19 is in our community, the less likely it is to be reintroduced.”

Heritage Specialty Care has a 3-star health inspection rating, out of 5 stars possible, and has had a total of seven pervious health citations, according to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The average number of health citations in Iowa is six, according to the centers.

As the virus spread in the community, Linn County Public Health began conducting surveys of every long-term care facility in the county.

Living Center West, ManorCare Health Services and Cottage Grove Place in Cedar Rapids, and Linn Manor Care Center in Marion all reported outbreaks of the coronavirus.

Those four Linn County facilities remain on the state’s outbreak list. In all, the state reports outbreaks at 37 long-term care facilities.

Comments: (319) 398-8411; grace.king@thegazette.com

Michaela Ramm of The Gazette contributed to this report.

Support our coverage

Our most important Coronavirus coverage is free to the public.

If you believe local news is essential, especially during this crisis, please donate. Your contribution will support news resources to cover the impact of the pandemic on our local communities.

All donations are tax-deductible.

Support our coverage

Our most important Coronavirus coverage is free to the public.

If you believe local news is essential, especially during this crisis, please donate. Your contribution will support news resources to cover the impact of the pandemic on our local communities.

All donations are tax-deductible.