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Local

10 people test positive for COVID-19 at Newton Health Care Center

Other tests still pending, facility committed to maintaining care for residents

Five residents and five employees of a nursing home in Newton have tested positive for COVID-19, “despite taking all advised precautions from the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and Iowa Department of Public Health,” the facility confirmed this past weekend in a press release and a Facebook post.

Newton Health Care Center initially reported nine positive cases in its press release. But as of 10:55 a.m. Monday, July 13, the data presented on Newton Health Care Center’s website indicated another worker tested positive for COVID-19, increasing the total to 10.

Administrators are in the process of completing tests for its remaining employees. As of Sunday, July 12, all tenants had been tested; those infected have since been placed in a quarantined area of Newton Health Care Center, facility administrator Sharon DeSpain said..

“We are following strict isolation protocols,” DeSpain said of Newton Health Care Center’s residents, who will be placed in a quarantined area of the facility. “We have very skilled and dedicated staff working our COVID-19 unit. Our staff will work tirelessly and selflessly to provide compassionate care to those affected.”

Infected residents will be monitored and transferred to the hospital if necessary. All staff will be required to wear personal protective equipment during this time, too. Newton Health Care Center “remains committed to caring for all residents, regardless of their COVID-19 status.”

DeSpain said, “We will only transfer residents from our home if their condition requires them to go to the hospital. Just like any other virus, if someone gets symptomatic and must go to the hospital, then they will go. Otherwise, this is their home and we are going to take care of them in their home.”

Open communication, she added, is key during these uncertain and stressful times. As needed, Newton Health Care Center will be providing daily updates through phone calls, text messages and the Safekeeping App, which is described as a “family communication tool” in the press release.

Newton Health Care Center administrators are appreciative of the generous understanding and support from residents’ families. DeSpain said her staff will be working “extremely long hours and will work very hard” during this difficult time. The facility is committed to its mission of “residents first, employees always.”

Other long-term care facilities in Newton have already been impacted by COVID-19 this year. Newton Health Care Center is the third facility of this to be impacted in town, Jasper County Public Health Department confirmed with Newton News Monday morning.

In late April, two long-term care facilities in Jasper County — Accura HealthCare of Newton West and the WesleyLife-affiliated Park Centre — had reported COVID-19 outbreaks. At that time, 39 positive cases had been identified between the two facilities; 21 at Accura, 18 at Park Centre.

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

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