Word spread raidly on Wednesday night after a former resident of Ponca City Nursing and Rehabilitation tested positive for COVID-19.
According to officials with the home, the resident was discharged from the nursing facility over the weekend to a local hospital after experiencing symptoms. The resident is not expected to return to the nursing facility and is expected to be released from the hospital into the care of family.
One other resident of the facility, who was in close contact with the affected resident, has been tested for COVID-19. The test results are not yet available.
“At this time, we are communicating directly with local and state health department officials to insure we are taking appropriate actions, to minimize the risk to our residents and staff,” said Kathy Casper, administrator. “As you know, we have already asked visitors and family to not visit our facility until the risk of this virus has been eliminated from our facility and the community. Please be assured, our staff and residents are following CDC and OSDH recommended guidelines for preventive actions.”
“We appreciate everyone’s understanding and support during these difficult times, and ask for prayers for our residents, staff, all health care workers and our government leaders as we continue to fight this virus,” said Casper.
“Please direct all nonresident specific questions and requests for information to PoncaCityCovidl9@ poncanursing.com and we will respond as soon as possible to your questions and concerns.”
Ponca City Nursing and Rehabilitation, like all Oklahoma nursing facilities, is taking heightened precautions to protect their residents, in accordance with guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Oklahoma State Department of Health. These measures include restricting non-medically necessary visitation to the facility, ending communal dining and group activities in the facility, screening staff for fevers and symptoms of COVID-19 prior to every shift, and screening all current residents twice per day for symptoms.
Oklahoma’s skilled nursing facilities will continue their policy of barring nonmedically necessary visitation. Staff at many facilities are working on making tele-conference technology like FaceTime available to residents wishing to visit with loved ones.
Care Providers Oklahoma President and Chief Executive Officer Steve Buck praised the staff at Ponca City Nursing and Rehabilitation for continuing to serve their residents well under enormously challenging circumstances.
“Like all health care workers, the staff at these facilities are on the absolute frontlines of the battle against COVID-19,” said Buck. “Not only are they trying to contain this outbreak, but they are doing so while helping their residents feel safe, comfortable and cared for. We owe them our gratitude for the dedication and compassion they are showing.”
Buck said that it is possible that COVID-19 could appear in more skilled nursing facilities, as it has elsewhere, and that the state of Oklahoma should work to get prepared now.
“The science is very clear that the residents of skilled nursing facilities are at high-risk for significant consequences from COVID-19 infection. Rapid testing for exposure and availability of protective gear, like facemasks, gowns and sanitizer is a must,” said Buck. “Reported shortages of these items are well documented; we encourage our state leaders and public health officials to continue pressing for expansion of testing capacity and collection of personal protective equipment. Members of the public can also support these efforts by practicing the recommended social distancing and by following the advice of medical professionals when you don’t feel well.