Springfield Heights became the first long-term care facility in the county to report positive coronavirus cases over the weekend. SUBMITTED

Springfield Heights is the first in Roberson County to report positive COVID-19 cases in a long-term care setting.   

According to a press release issued Saturday, the facility has identified 18 positive cases – 13 of those are residents and five are employees.

“Springfield Heights assisted living by Americare has confirmed that following the testing of residents and employees that 13 residents have tested positive for COVID-19 or are presumed positive based on symptoms and pending retest results. Five employees have tested positive.

“Americare proactively tested all residents and employees on Wednesday, May 13 after receiving its first positive test result on a resident who (was) admitted to the hospital,” the release stated.  

Officials said the five employees will remain quarantined offsite and added that they are preparing to care-in-place for those residents testing positive.

“All residents testing negative have been placed on in-room quarantine and the facility has implemented contact isolation protocols. All residents have been receiving daily wellness checks since March 13 and are now being checked every four hours during waking hours for symptoms. All staff is wearing N95 masks while in the building and gloves while in resident rooms,” the release stated.

Springfield Heights joins the state list of 41 other long-term care facilities in Tennessee, which have reported 815 positive COVID-19 cases and 87 deaths.

“We know that COVID-19 is easily spread within congregate care settings and may be spread by individuals who have no symptoms,” Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey wrote in a letter to nursing home administrators May 1. “The ability to limit the spread of this virus within these settings depends on the ability to rapidly identify infections by testing individuals in these settings.”

“This month, all nursing homes in the state will be required to coordinate mass testing of residents and staff to “ensure that our most vulnerable populations are protected and closely monitored for illness,” Piercey added.

As part of the initiative, state health department staff and/or members of the Tennessee National Guard will be available to help with specimen collection if needed. The state will also provide access to personal protective equipment (PPE) for collection procedures along with laboratory testing at no cost.

At Springfield Heights, all residents and resident family members have been informed of their individual test results, the aggregate test results, and all plans for care.

“We are doing everything we can to ensure we stop the spread of this within our facility,” said Patricia Cokingtin, spokesperson for Americare Senior Living. “Our staff and residents are following the recommended preventative action. As of March 13, we restricted visitors from entering our facility, and cancelled all group activities within the building until the virus has been eradicated.”

Reporter Josh Cross contributed to this article.

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