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Mt. Lebanon nursing home credits early testing, segregating patients for reducing covid-19 cases

About an hour ago

Asbury Heights long-term care facility in Mt. Lebanon credits knocking down its covid-19 cases by more than 92% to early testing and segregating patients.

“It’s been a long process and gone much better than I was afraid of,” said Dr. David Nace, medical director of UPMC Senior Communities, which includes Asbury Heights, and has 30 long-term care facilities with more than 3,000 residents throughout Pennsylvania.

“Fortunately, we were able to limit it,” he said.

There have been no deaths from covid-19 so far at the Mt. Lebanon facility.

Asbury Heights had 17 residents and 19 staffers test positive for covid-19 between July 22 and 26. As of Friday, two residents and one employee tested positive, said Ashley Trentrock, manager of public relations for UPMC Senior Communities.

Just under 400 people live at Asbury Heights, which provides independent living, personal care, memory support and nursing and rehabilitation. The facility has 275 employees and an equal number of contract employees.

There were outbreaks in two nursing home units in Asbury Heights last month. One was limited to three people, which was picked up by universal testing. But for the second unit, a worker presented symptoms and rapid testing identified 15 residents who tested positive. Those residents were quickly segregated from others, Nace said.

“Testing and infection control makes a difference,” he said.

Knowing more about the virus and applying state Department of Health polices to long-term care facilities is helping to protect residents, said Maggi Mumma, deputy press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Health Press Office.

Although the state Department of Health cannot comment on cases or cluster of cases, the agency can speak to what is working to tamp down the spread of the virus at senior living facilities.

Cases have largely gone down in long-term care facilities from early in the pandemic in Pennsylvania for several reasons, she said.

“We have a better knowledge of the virus, and so we know that the virus often enters facilities through the workers at these facilities,” she said. “With that knowledge, we have been able to use universal testing, PPE and other measures to help protect residents and staff,” she said.

For Asbury Heights and other long-term care facilities, the biggest challenge is getting all test results quickly, Nace said.

In-house with UPMC, results can be as quick as 24 hours. But outside UPMC, which UPMC Senior Communities use for universal testing and employees, commercial labs can take up to 10 days, he said.

In addition to the number of covid-19 cases declining at Asbury Heights, no one got severely ill.

The residents who tested positive were frail in some way and had pre-existing conditions to catch covid-19 including chronic kidney disease, diabetes and other risk factors.

“At Asbury, these were individuals who did quite well,” Nace said.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, or via Twitter .

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