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Ottawa County nursing home reports 6 deaths, moves to test all residents and staff for COVID-19

Four of the deaths were confirmed COVID-19 patients and two are considered probable due to close contact with confirmed patients.
Credit: AP
A healthcare worker shows a package with items used for testing people for COVID-19 at a drive-thru testing site at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, Wednesday, March 25, 2020, in West Bloomfield, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

HUDSONVILLE, Mich. — An Ottawa County nursing home says six of its residents have passed away from complications of COVID-19.

Sheldon Meadows Assisted Living in Hudsonville says four of those residents had tested positive for the virus, while two of them were probable cases due to their close proximity to the confirmed patients. A spokesperson says the facility was not able to secure tests in time to test these two individuals before they passed. For that reason, only four of those deaths are being counted in Ottawa County's total of seven COVID-19 deaths. In addition, two employees and six other residents at the Hudsonville facility have tested positive for the virus.

The two most recent deaths at the nursing home were reported late Monday evening and included a woman in her 90s and a man in his mid-80s, both people had underlying health conditions, according to the Ottawa County Department of Public Health. 

Heritage Senior Communities Assisted Living Homes, which owns Sheldon Meadows, is now in the process of testing all staff and residents at its nine senior communities. The plan is to have all testing completed by April 24. So far, facilities in Washtenaw and Saginaw counties have been tested and in those facilities a total of three employees tested positive. No residents tested positive for the virus in either facility. 

“We want to assure you that we will continue to be transparent and communicative as we adapt our processes. The health and well-being of our residents and staff is our highest priority," said Lauren Gowman, Director of Operations at Heritage Property Management, in a statement from the company.

According to a spokesperson for Heritage Property Management, the first confirmed COVID-19 case at Sheldon Meadows came on April 3, and the facility was able to complete testing of all residents and staff members on April 16. 

Sheldon Meadows is in the 49426 zip code, where 28 of the county's 130 total cases are. 

Starting April 21, nursing homes are now required to report to Michigan's Department of Health and Human Services with daily updates related to COVID-19. Later this week, state health officials say they will begin publicly posting the nursing homes and other congregate care facilities where cases and deaths have been confirmed. 

"We have at least 243 congregate care facilities that are reporting outbreaks of respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19, and that's very concerning," said the state's chief medical executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, during an April 20 press conference.

Nursing homes, homes for the aged, adult foster care facilities and assisted living facilities will all be required to submit up-to-date information regarding current capacity/bed availability, personal protective equipment inventory and the current number of COVID-19 cases and deaths within their facility. 

MDHHS is also launching COVID-19 Regional Hubs to treat COVID-19 patients from congregate care facilities, who do not require hospital-level care.

Metron of Cedar Springs, a Kent County nursing home, reported an outbreak late last month after 31 residents and 5 staff members tested positive for the virus. Just over a week later, the facility confirmed that six of those residents had died. 

At Sheldon Meadows, an isolated area has been created to house COVID-19 residents, and several staff members have volunteered to care for those patients full-time, including living on-site. Staff are being provided personal protective equipment and disinfectant supplies, according to Heritage Property Management. 

Non-essential visitors are not allowed at any of the Heritage Senior Communities and staff members are taking part in daily health screenings. 

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► Emma Nicolas is a multimedia journalist. Have a news tip or question for Emma? Get in touch by email, Facebook or Twitter.

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