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COVID-19 Outbreak At Liberty, Missouri, Nursing Home Accounts For Spike In Clay County Numbers

060920_pleasant valley2.jpg_david fulk
David Fulk
Fifty-two residents and staff at Pleasant Valley Manor Care Center near Liberty have tested positive for COVID-19.

Nursing homes and long-term care facilities account for a disproportionate share of the nation’s COVID-19 cases and an even higher share of its deaths.

Another area nursing home has experienced a large COVID-19 outbreak, with 52 reported cases and two deaths among its residents and staff.

The outbreak at Pleasant Valley Manor Care Center near Liberty, Missouri, accounts for nearly 10% of all confirmed COVID-19 cases among Clay County residents and is the first major eruption of COVID-19 at a nursing home there.

LaDonna Vaughan, the nursing home’s administrator, said an asymptomatic employee tested positive on May 28. After that, she said, the nursing home tested all of its residents and workers.

“All the residents that tested positive have been placed in an isolation unit,” Vaughan said.

She added that nearly all the people who tested positive were asymptomatic.

“We’re currently working with the CDC and our county health department, as well as the (Missouri) Department of Health and Senior Services and the state lab to do everything that they recommend,” Vaughan said.

The nursing home currently has about 80 residents. Its website says it is part of Juckette Family Homes, although no such company is registered with the Missouri secretary of state. Another similarly-named company, Juckette Management Services Inc. in Chillicothe, Missouri, does own and operate nursing homes in Missouri but doesn’t list Pleasant Valley among them.

Juckette Management Services did not return a call seeking comment.

Last year, Pleasant Valley Manor Care received an overall rating of below average (two stars out of a possible five) from Nursing Home Compare, the website operated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The rating is based on health inspections, staffing and various quality criteria.

The nursing home did, however, excel in one category, “long-stay quality of resident care,” getting five stars out of a maximum of five. That rating measures the quality of care delivered to long-term residents.

“We’re trying to make everything safe for our residents because we love them,” Vaughan said. “A lot of people believe … we’re just here for a paycheck. If that’s so, most of my staff would be doing something else because it’s hard, hard work.”

Gary Zaborac, director of the Clay County Public Health Center, said the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is investigating the outbreak at the nursing home since it is responsible for licensing and regulating nursing homes. He said his agency was assisting with contact tracing.

“We certainly saw a significant spike in the number of reported cases (in the county) due to this outbreak,” Zaborac said.

As of Monday, there were 230 confirmed cases among non-Kansas City residents of Clay County and 307 among Kansas City residents of the county. Nine have died.

Nursing homes and long-term care facilities account for a disproportionate share of the nation’s COVID-19 cases and an even higher share of its deaths.

That’s because older people, who tend to have high levels of chronic illness and pre-existing health conditions, are more susceptible to the disease. Compounding the problem is that residents typically live in close quarters and caregivers move from room to room, making it difficult to contain the spread of infections.

As of this week, there were 95,515 confirmed cases among U.S. nursing home residents and 31,782 had died, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. That compares with 1.9 million cases and 110,000 deaths overall nationwide.

CMS began requiring nursing homes to report COVID-19 cases and deaths in April. Because only 88% of the nation’s 15,400 Medicare and Medicaid-eligible nursing homes have done so, the numbers of cases and deaths are almost certainly higher.

In the Kansas City metro, a handful of nursing homes have accounted for a disproportionate share of the COVID-19 cases and deaths in long-term care facilities.

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