Update, July 28: Cayuga Ridge Nursing and Rehabilitation appears to have contained the coronavirus at its facility, as widespread testing has shown no more positive cases of COVID-19, according to Director of Marketing and Resident Relations Kevin Dean.
Dean said that once the center was aware of the positive case, which was found on July 19, they "immediately implemented a plan that we had developed to address just such a situation." That included testing for every resident and employee.
"We have completed all the testing including the resident who reportedly tested positive," Dean said. "All tests have come back negative. As we are not scientists nor epidemiologists we can not say with any certainty that the resident was a false positive. However, the resident who tested positive has now had one negative test."
Dean said that the resident will be tested weekly for the foreseeable future, until they the resident has two negative COVID-19 test results, and had already been placed in the isolation unit because the resident had been in and out of the building for medical appointments.
"So, while we cannot say it was a false positive we believe it is likely that the virus was never in the building," Dean said. "We will maintain an over abundance of caution to ensure the safety of our residents."
Original Story, July 20: The Tompkins County Health Department has announced the first instance of a positive coronavirus case in a local nursing facility, but is cautioning against the chance of an outbreak similar to those seen in nursing facilities around New York State.
While the health department's release does not say so, the Ithaca Times has been able to independently confirm that the positive case was found at the Cayuga Ridge Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, a 144-bed facility on Trumansburg Road in Ithaca.
Cayuga Ridge staff did not respond to several requests for comment. Because the case was found in a skilled nursing facility, the state's Department of Health leads the contact investigation, and according to the release all staff and family members of all residents have been notified.
"The positive individual is asymptomatic, was identified through routine screening procedures, and is in isolation at the facility and all close contacts have been identified and are in quarantine," the release stated.
The case is ostensibly one of the four new positives announced by the health department in yesterday's daily numbers update. Nursing homes have been on high alert for the virus since the first days of the pandemic, and have mostly been shut to visitors since then; Cayuga Ridge's Facebook page said on July 10 that it was preparing a plan to submit to the Department of Health to re-allow visitation, but it does not appear that the facility had officially been able to welcome visitors again.
Ivor Williams said his mother, a 56 year old resident at Cayuga Ridge, had called him around 10 a.m. Sunday morning and told him that another resident who lives across from her had tested positive for the coronavirus. Several hours later, around 4 p.m., Williams received a call from a Cayuga Ridge staff member informing him of the positive test and that the person was in an isolation room on the isolation floor, which is used to house residents who have to leave the facility frequently to receive medical care.
"I received a call from my mother [Sunday] morning that the Health Department had called the facility about a positive test, but it was all hearsay at that point," Williams said. He was disappointed it had taken so long to receive follow-up word from Cayuga Ridge, especially since he hasn't been allowed to visit his mother in-person in months. While Williams acknowledged he is wary of Cayuga Ridge's ability to handle the situation, the Tompkins County Health Department vouched for the procedures the facility has taken since the case was found.
“The facility has implemented and acted on protocols designed to ensure the health and safety of their residents and staff," said Frank Kruppa, Tompkins County Public Health Director. "They were able to quickly identify this positive case and place the individual in isolation, reducing the potential for further exposures to the disease. Older individuals and individuals with pre-existing conditions are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, and it is critical that all nursing facilities continue routine screening and testing to identify any future cases and stop the spread.”
Further, from the health department:
Individuals presenting symptoms or exposed to a known positive case should seek testing.
Cayuga Health Sampling Site
Hours: Mon–Fri, 8:30 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
To pre-register, call Cayuga Health Call Center at 607-319-5708, or cayugahealth.org.
Everyone can continue to take these steps to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community:
- Refrain from traveling to states listed in the New York Travel Advisory.
- Keep 6 feet distance between yourself and others when in public.
- Wear a mask at all times in public spaces, especially when 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained. Masks and face coverings must be worn by everyone over age two at all times in public places when 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained. Fines are enforceable for individuals who are in violation of these regulations. Businesses must deny entry to anyone who is not wearing a face covering.
- Non-essential gatherings are limited to 50 people for our region, but must comply with distancing and face covering guidance.
- Wash hands well and often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid close and continued contact with other people not in your household.
- Cover coughs and sneezes.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
To file a complaint about a business or social gathering click here.
For local updates and information, check the TCHD website.