GREELEY, Colo. — A care center with a coronavirus outbreak opened a COVID-19 unit to care for residents and seniors at other affiliate facilities who test positive for the virus.
Centennial Healthcare Center is also proposing a partnership with the Weld County Health Department to take in seniors with the virus at hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
So far, 20 residents have died of COVID-19 at the care center and 25 staff members tested positive, according to Annaliese Impink, a spokesperson for the care center.
More than half of the deaths in Colorado are among residents in a nursing home and senior care facilities, Gov. Jared Polis said at Monday’s press conference.
James Starr, whose father lives at the center, was outraged when Denver7 informed him that the facility created a COVID-19 care unit. He called the decision “dumb.” His father tested positive for COVID-19 in March. On Monday, his father celebrated his 77th birthday after beating the virus.
Starr said his dad is all he has left. He said with so little known about the virus, he worries his dad could be re-infected, and other seniors’ risk of exposure will increase.
The COVID-19 wing of the facility will be separate from the seniors that do not have the virus. Impink said each unit will have dedicated staff to prevent cross-contamination.
The new wing will have a 51-bed capacity. Currently, 18 seniors who tested positive for the virus are staying in the unit, and seven are from an affiliate facility. The care center can house up to 107 residents.
Impink said the virus outbreak has prepared the care center and its staff to handle the new patients battling the virus.
“We have the ability to dedicate our staff to that unit, we have the space in the building to be able to house COVID-19 positive patients, and then we have had quite a bit of experience over the last two months,” she said.
Impink adds that they also have resources to tap into additional caregivers when employees get sick.
“We have done everything in our power to educate our staff to the best of our ability, to give them the PPE (personal protective equipment) they need to do their jobs and to keep our staff safe and our residents safe,” Impink said.
Starr said he’s angry with the move because he doesn’t understand why the center would put residents and employees at risk by bringing more patients into the facility.
He says it’s not only concerning but scary, and hopes the county health department turns down the plan.
The Weld County Health Department released a statement reading in part that they are working closely with the care center and providing guidance, and they look forward to reviewing the plan. Impink says the plan will be submitted in the coming days. For now, the care center is only accepting seniors with the virus from affiliate facilities.
Several families members have accused the care center of lack of transparency and failing to keep them updated on the virus outbreak. Impink says they are working to inform the family members of residents about the unit.