September 22, 2021

Newton nursing home managing another COVID-19 outbreak

Visitors currently prohibited from entering Newton Health Care Center

Seven residents and two employees at Newton Health Care Center have tested positive for COVID-19, and as a result the facility cannot allow any visitors inside the nursing home at this time, administrator Ian Christy announced in a Facebook post Monday, Aug. 30.

“However we strongly encourage families to schedule a phone call or virtual call with your family member,” Christy said.

About one week ago, Newton Health Care Center, announced only four residents and one staff member tested positive. Jasper County Health Department praised the Newton nursing home’s transparency with the outbreak and was thankful for the healthcare workers who continue to take care of residents.

“If you are sick or have test positive for COVID in the last 10 days, please stay home,” the county health department said. “We need to protect our at-risk people, including those in long-term care facilities.”

Employees will follow CDC guidelines to recover from the virus and return to work in the next few weeks. The Newton nursing home will continue to conduct twice-weekly, facility-wide testing, as recommended by the Iowa Department of Public Health and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

“Regular testing is an affective method of slowing the virus’ spread,” Christy said.

“We will continue this practice until the virus is no longer prevalent in our healthcare center. Due to testing (two times) per week you will see our number fluctuate as we test both employees and residents.”

Newton Health Care Center, 200 S. Eight Ave. E., assured it is “adhering to rigorous infection control practices” throughout the facility, and it continues to stay in touch with the county health department to ensure it is following the most up-to-date policies and procedures to defend against spread.

Defensive measures are also in place to mitigate the virus, Christy said. The facility is closely monitoring, screening and temperature checking all residents and team members for symptoms on a daily and shift-by-shift basis. Newton Health Care is also enforcing social distancing.

Only essential individuals — such as those providing critical care for residents — are allowed into the health care community.

Frequent hand hygiene and disinfecting high-touch surfaces are also being practiced. The nursing home is also taking extra precautions by using N95 masks, gloves and gowns as situations warrant their use. Residents are required to stay in their rooms to better protect themselves.

For any individuals wishing to speak to their family members at Newton Health Care Center, Christy said to call the facility at 641-792-7440 or send messages to www.newtonhealthcarecenter.com.

In July 2020, Newton Health Care Center announced 53 people — 43 residents and 10 employees — had tested positive for COVID-19. Those who were infected were placed in a quarantined area of the building at that time. The facility expanded its COVID-19 unit to accommodate care for affected residents.

Becky Pryor, administrator of the Jasper County Health Department, told Newton News no other long-term care facilities in town have reported residents who tested positive for COVID-19. In the past 14 days (Aug. 16-30), Jasper County has confirmed 163 new COVID cases; all of which have been the delta variant.

Pryor said people who are feeling sick should stay home unless they need medical attention.

Individuals with COVID-19 can have a wide range of symptoms, including: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea and others.

Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions — such as heart or lung disease or diabetes — seem to be at a higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness, according to information in the Iowa Epi Manual.

People experiencing trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake or discoloration of the skin, lips or nail beds should seek emergency medical care immediately.

Those who are sick with COVID-19 are considered infectious until at least 10 days after symptoms first appeared, at least 24 hours have passed no a fever and without using fever-reducing medication and other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving.

Newton Clinic, Medicap and Hy-Vee have started giving additional vaccine to immunocompromised patients. The Jasper County Health Department will be working with long-term care facilities to start in the immediate future.

Beginning in the fall, health officials hope to distribute COVID-19 booster shots. However, the boosters are subject to authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and recommendation by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the CDC stated.

If the FDA authorizes the boosters and ACIP recommends a dose, it is likely the first people eligible for a booster to be those who were first to receive a COVID-19 vaccine: the at-risk populations. This includes healthcare providers, older adults and residents of long-term care facilities.

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

Christopher Braunschweig

Reporter with a strong penchant for community journalism.