This morning's Georgia Department of Public Health showed Stephens County with 15 new confirmed cases, which were not accounted for until the Hospital released this information this evening.
Following blanket COVID-19 testing conducted Friday, April 24, on all residents at the Clary and Wilkinson Care Centers, a total of 13 residents received positive test results and are considered confirmed COVID-19 cases.
“Due to concerns about a possible exposure, we decided on Friday, April 24, to test all residents of our Clary and Wilkinson Care Center facilities that had not already been tested for COVID-19, Stephens County Hospital CEO Michael Hester stated in an email today at 6 p.m. “This decision was made after conferring with SCH administration and infection control.”
All 13 who tested positive have been, and remain asymptomatic, Hester said, adding that patients and family members were informed of the test results earlier today.
“We will continue to monitor them closely and will notify families immediately if that should change,” Hester said. “Staff will continue to wear appropriate PPE with any known positive cases. All staff will continue to wear a mask at all times when they are in either facility.”
Residents who tested negative will also be monitored closely, and there will be a “low threshold” for retesting them if they become “the least big symptomatic,” Hester added. Family members of anyone retested will be kept informed.
More than a week ago, the hospital put in place a protocol requiring testing in the emergency room of any person coming from a group living facility such as personal care homes, assisted living, skilled nursing, etc. That policy will remain in effect, Hester said.
“We will continue to do this as a method of early detection. We also have been and continue to test all positive residents that are admitted to the hospital to ensure they are negative before they are allowed back to Clary or Wilkinson,” he said.
Neither the Clary or Wilkinson Care Centers have been accepting new residents, as recommend by state health officials, and trips out of the facility have been limited to those that are medically necessary. Special precautions are taken when outside trips are necessary.
Hospital and care center administrators requested the National Guard to come in and assist with deep cleaning efforts.
“This was set in motion early last week and they will be on site Tuesday morning,” Hester said. “We are also planning to test every employee during the first of this week in an effort to identify any other asymptomatic carriers and further mitigate as much risk to the residents as possible. This will require careful planning with the hospital, and we may have the National Guard assist us with staffing as well during this time.”
All measures put in place have been in accordance with guidance from the Department of Public Health for the State of Georgia,” Hester added. “We ask that you remember our residents and staff in prayer as they continue to navigate through these unpredictable and unprecedented times. Please know that we take the health of your loved ones and our staff very seriously and are constantly doing everything within our power to combat this virus and minimize the risk of exposure in every single way possible.”