ADH confirms delay in reporting of deaths

The 10 resident deaths at Hot Springs Nursing and Rehabilitation — a Waters Community that were made public this week are cumulative, health officials confirmed Friday. – Photo by Richard Rasmussen of The Sentinel-Record

The 10 resident deaths at Hot Springs Nursing and Rehabilitation — a Waters Community, which Wednesday’s Arkansas Department of Health congregate settings report made public, are cumulative deaths at the facility, officials confirmed Friday.

Dr. Jose Romero, Health Department secretary, said the COVID-19 deaths occurred over the course of the pandemic.

“Some of these were known to us,” he said during Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s daily press briefing Friday in Little Rock. “Some of these are older. These are not all cases that occurred on the same day.”

Some of Garland County and other areas’ COVID-19 deaths have yet to be added to the death total posted on the Health Department’s website, Dr. Gene Shelby, the county’s health officer, said Thursday, noting that some of the deceased are still listed among those with active infections and have yet to be added to the death count.

It’s unclear if some of the Hot Springs nursing home’s deaths first reported Wednesday have already been included in the nine cumulative deaths the Health Department reported for the county as of Friday. The department said it takes time to confirm deaths were the result of the coronavirus.

The numbers for the Hot Springs nursing home haven’t changed since Wednesday, with Friday’s report continuing to list 66 infected residents, 31 infected staff and 10 residents deaths.

“We are still waiting for additional details from the nursing home,” Public Information Director Gavin Lesnick said in an email. “We communicate directly with the nursing homes, and the report reflects information they provide. This can at times include deaths that occurred over a period of time and weren’t reported immediately.

“There is a validation process that includes verifying COVID-19 is listed on the certificate before these deaths are added to the dashboard totals.”

Romero said the COVID-19 database and database that catalogs death certificates have to be reconciled before a death is added to the coronavirus stats.

“There’s some discrepancy about the funeral homes not reporting some of these cases to the Health Department, and the merging of databanks that have this information,” he said. “In general it’s a confluence of a number of little factors that we’re sorting out.”

Information the Arkansas Department of Human Services provided Friday showed Infinity Health Care Management of Illinois and Strawberry Fields Real Estate Investment Trust of Indiana, the group that acquired the Hot Springs nursing home in January 2019, owns or operates 12 long term care facilities in Arkansas. Twenty-eight resident deaths have been reported in those facilities, including 16 at the Waters of White Hall.

Hot Springs Nursing and Rehabilitation — a Waters Community and Village Springs Health and Rehabilitation on Highway 7 north are the county’s only nursing homes with resident deaths listed on the report. One death has been listed for the latter.

The statewide nursing home resident death toll is 186, according to Friday’s report.

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