The Polk County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) has been working actively with local long-term care facilities over the course of the COVID-19 event to prepare staff and facilities for the potential for positive COVID-19 cases to develop in their facilities via their residents or with staff who may be employed at the facility.
As of Monday, April 20, 2020, the Polk County HHSA has opened an outbreak investigation at the White Oak of Tryon long-term care facility in response to positive cases of staff associated with the facility. Those staff members who tested positive were placed into quarantine and were not symptomatic while present at the facility.
“The Polk County HHSA public health team is assisting in mitigation efforts and guidance at local facilities to keep residents and staff safe through preventive measures which include PPE, quarantine/isolation options, staff and resident wellness monitoring, and testing of symptomatic residents and staff,” Polk County Health and Human Services Director Joshua Kennedy said.
“At this time, we can report that resident testing has comeback with negative test results, which is good news,” Kennedy said. “Ultimately, this is something we – both the agency and our partners too – have been preparing for and we hope that with increased efforts we will continue to prevent further spread to residents.”
White Oak of Tryon issued the following statement:
“Resident safety is a top priority for White Oak of Tryon. We recognize the especially vulnerable nature of the residents that we serve and the staff that care for them. The safety and the health of our residents and staff is our highest priority. We continue to work diligently to take heightened precautions and adhere to the guidance by our local and state health departments, as well as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
At this time, we currently do not have residents that have tested positive for COVID-19. Our goal is to attempt to keep the virus out and if it is found in the facility, to minimize the spread to anyone else. We have reinforced to our staff that anyone who is sick should stay home. Our residents are screened daily for symptoms of COVID-19, and our staff is screened prior to each shift. We continue to follow infection prevention procedures such as: hand-washing, using alcohol-based hand sanitizers, disinfecting the environment, face masks for all staff and providers entering the facility, etc. We are asking non-essential visitors, including family members, contractors and volunteers to avoid visiting our facility for the time being. Loved ones can communicate with residents by using video chat, calling, texting or checking in on social media.
We will continue to collaborate closely with the local and state health departments, as well as the CDC and update our residents, families and staff with changes.“
The North Carolina Dept. of Health and Human Services has made safety for long-term care facilities a top priority due to the environmental conditions of congregate living facilities and the high-risk population served.
When opening an investigation, the county health departments increase the monitoring of all staff and residents, increase testing efforts of residents, and support the local long-term care facility’s team with guidance and mitigation resources.
The Polk County HHSA will continue to monitor all facility needs and outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Polk County COVID-19 Message Line is (828) 722-5086. Calls made before 8:30 a.m. or after 5 p.m. will be directed to voicemail. For non-medical information, please call 2-1-1. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please dial 911.