Immanuel Lutheran Communities received confirmation Wednesday that a female resident in assisted living at Buffalo Hill Terrace has tested positive for COVID-19 and is in isolation.
The resident is “stable and resting comfortably,” according to a press release from the organization.
Jason Cronk, CEO of Immanuel Lutheran Communities, said in the press release that the organization immediately initiated prepared response plans when the test was suspected positive on Tuesday and has been working with the Flathead County Health Department on contact tracing to determine the affected resident’s contacts. The health department has informed anybody who has been exposed to the resident.
Immanuel Lutheran Communities also said it immediately informed residents and their families of the positive test and suspended activities at Buffalo Hill Terrace.
“Our priorities are to provide aid and comfort to our resident and the resident’s family at this time, and to ensure that every possible measure has been taken to isolate this case to prevent further exposure,” Cronk said in a statement.
Cronk said the organization is cooperating fully with state and federal health officials to trace the source of the exposure, analyze potential contact to other residents and staff within its community, and prevent any potential spread. The community has been working since March to implement new procedures to prevent the spread of illness and to respond in the event it did arise.
These precautions include: monitoring resident travel, asking residents who recently traveled to self-quarantine, canceling activities and programs, closing dining venues and delivering meals, restricting visitors, quarantining any newly admitted health care residents, requiring staff to self-monitor for symptoms up to 14 days upon return from travel, screening all team members and essential vendors including daily temperature checks and COVID-19 testing, encouraging only medically necessary resident travel off-campus, and developing and practicing response contingency plans.
“While it was hoped these actions hinder the virus, Immanuel Lutheran leadership has continued conscientiously planning and preparing to respond effectively for a time such as this,” Immanuel Lutheran Communities stated in press release.
“Since it is seemingly impossible to defend against this virus until we have timely and accurate testing and a vaccine, our COVID-19 Response Team has been in constant preparation,” Cronk said. “The past few months have equipped us for this very moment, and I am confident that our extensive training combined with our strong clinical team that will do all that we can to eliminate this virus from our Community.”
Fifteen residents of Canyon Creek Memory Care in Billings have died from COVID-19 since July 6 after an outbreak at the facility. Health officials have also reported other deaths at senior-care institutions in Montana, including six at a long-term facility in Shelby early in the pandemic.
A recent Associated Press analysis found that more than half of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have involved nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, illustrating the elderly’s vulnerabilities to the disease.
Immanuel Lutheran Communities noted that Flathead County is experiencing an “escalation in cases of COVID-19,” and the organization says it “continues to promote the importance of personal action to protect seniors and other vulnerable populations.”
“Daily communications to the Immanuel Lutheran Community encourage all to follow CDC guidelines of practicing proper hand hygiene and social distancing to prevent the further spread of COVID-19,” the organization stated.