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Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Putnam down 9 percent

June 25, 2020 - 06:00
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Testing up by 17 percent but positivity rate hovers around 8 percent

  • Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Putnam down 9 percent
    Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Putnam down 9 percent

Although last week showed an increase in some COVID-19 numbers, the report out Monday by the Central Georgia Health District [CGHD] and the Georgia Department of Public Health [GPH] reflected some good news in this week’s numbers.

The gains were minimal with 120 cases this week, up from 112 [+8] last week while the deaths remained constant at 11 as did the cases hospitalized at 18. More notably, there has been a 9 percent decrease in confirmed cases in Putnam County through June 14 and the “outbreak” area in the county has fallen from 45 percent to 42 percent.

COVID testing cases jumped by 17 percent since last week to 392; however, the positivity rate (confirmed cases) stood at 8.5 percent last week but dropped this week to 8 percent, another good sign as the fight against the novel coronavirus continues.

Perhaps most encouraging were the numbers reported by the Eatonton Health and Rehabilitation Center [EHR] to both state agencies, CGHD and GPH this week. Since being declared an “outbreak” location, the EHR numbers have stabilized and remained about the same this week with 36 cases, two of which are employees, 10 hospitalized cases and nine deaths. With a patient census

With a patient census of 77, EHR is pleased with the efforts by its staff to curb the influx of the infection and have a direct impact on the improvement at the center.

“The staff of Eatonton Health & Rehabilitation continues to work around the clock to fight this virus. Although you are seeing the initial steps towards a ‘reopening’ in the nation, state and local communities, it is important to remember that nothing has changed about the potentially severe effects of COVID-19 for the medically fragile and/ or elderly who reside at Eatonton Health & Rehabilitation,” said Amy Abel, director of communications at the center. “While restrictions may be relaxed under certain circumstances, the Governor’s recent address (effective June 16-30) is clear in stating that the shelter-in-place order is to remain in effect for Georgia’s long-term care communities. Eatonton Health & Rehabilitation will therefore continue to restrict non-essential visitation in order to help protect the patients and the staff.

“Furthermore, the center will continue to maintain strict standards for hand hygiene and environmental cleanliness, suspending group activities and communal dining to support social distancing, and adhering to recent guidance provided by the CDC and local and state health officials.”

Eatonton Health & Rehabilitation implemented a plan to test for COVID-19. The initial patient baseline testing is complete, and now the staff of Eatonton Health & Rehabilitation is completing the initial staff baseline testing. The center is continuing, with the support and guidance of the medical director, to implement appropriate transmission-based precautions when patients test positive for the virus.

EHR reports it is not resting on its laurels but rather being aggressive in its efforts to continually stabilize the EHR patient census and its staff.

“Given the recent and rapid spread of coronavirus across the state, and the vulnerability of the population served, Eatonton Health & Rehabilitation has been and will continue to be in communication with the Medical Director, as well as with the local and state health departments for guidance regarding patients who have an acute respiratory illness,” Abel continued. “It is important to remember that, in skilled nursing centers, many patients are seeking care for conditions other than COVID-19. While COVID-19 has certainly become a reality in the clinical setting, it has not impacted the commitment to caring, demonstrated by the staff members of Eatonton Health & Rehabilitation, and for the many patients who require varying degrees of skilled care unrelated to the virus.”

At times, The Eatonton Messenger has received numerous phone calls from concerned families who stated they perhaps haven’t been given the opportunity to visit their loved ones as expected, raising concerns about matters such as patient bathing and cleanliness of patients’ everyday clothing where permissible under current COVID restrictions. When The Messenger reached out to EHR to discern these concerns, EHR responded by saying the issues had been addressed. “This commitment to caring for the patients at Eatonton Health & Rehabilitation also extends to the family members of the patients. David Thornton, administrator, and the staff of Eatonton recognize that this is a difficult time for many family members. The center is providing periodic updates to family members through letters and phone calls,” Abel said. “In addition, individualized patient updates are being provided as appropriate. Family members have also been encouraged to arrange ‘window visits’ with their loved ones and have been invited to participate in video chats with their loved ones via FaceTime and Zoom. Family members may contact the administrator or director of nursing for Eatonton Health & Rehabilitation with specific questions or to review their loved one’s care.”

Eatonton Mayor John Reid was asked to share his thoughts on the ongoing virus saga at both EHR and in the community.

“We didn’t have a chance to have a game plan,” Reid said. “It hit all too fast. There are things we can’t do right now. We can’t do the things we need to do. The virus has had a heavy impact on our community.”

And EHR was quick to say thanks to those that have been impacted the most.

“As we all continue to navigate this uncharted territory together, Eatonton Health & Rehabilitation appreciates everyone’s support and patience during this unprecedented national health crisis,” Abel said. “In addition, the skilled nursing center wishes to recognize the unfaltering efforts of the staff as they continue to fight this virus while providing care and comfort to the patients of Eatonton Health & Rehabilitation. Thank you to the many staff members and their families, who continue to demonstrate unwavering dedication to the patients of Eatonton Health & Rehabilitation.”

COVID-19 Testing Hotline

Are you concerned about yourself or someone you love being potentially infected with the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic that continues to plague our community? If you answered “yes” to either question, look no further than the COVID-19 testing hotline. You must call and answer a few questions to be potentially scheduled for “FREE” 100 percent testing to determine the status and existence of the virus in your body or someone you love. As a service provided by the Georgia Public Health Department in conjunction with the Putnam County Health Department, you must call 1-844-987-0099 to get started. Making one easy phone call can save your life or that of someone you love. Call 1-844-987-0099. Walk-ins are not accepted for this program.