2 staff members at St. John’s test positive for COVID-19

Published 3:57 pm Wednesday, April 15, 2020

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Two staff members at St. John’s Lutheran Community have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the organization’s administrator. 

Scot Spates said he was notified Saturday that the first staff member, who works at both The Meadows Assisted Living and Waters Edge Independent Living sites at the Fountain Lake campus, had tested positive. The second employee, who works only at The Meadows, was confirmed positive after that. 

He said the Minnesota Department of Health has been in contact with the employees and the St. John’s housing manager. The employees will not be able to work for 14 days, and then after that will not be able to return to work until they are symptom-free.

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He was unsure whether the employees worked together and noted that at least 10 to 12 other staff members have also been tested for the virus, and those tests have all come back negative for COVID-19. 

“Our goal all along was to do everything we possibly can to keep the virus out of our building,” Spates said. “That has been the goal all along, but at the same time, we knew there was that possibility it was going to get in here one way or another.” 

He said because the virus spreads easily and is invisible, people have to assume anything they touch might have it. 

St. John’s in March started implementing many guidelines to reduce the risk of the virus coming into the facility and spreading. 

At that time, St. John’s began visitor restrictions, not allowing visitors into any of the buildings, and in mid-March, staff started wearing homemade face masks on both campuses, many of which were donated by friends, family members of residents and tenants, or staff. 

He said staff are screened each time they come into work. Staff with a fever of over 100 degrees are not able to work and are advised to leave and talk to their provider. 

The dining rooms have been closed down at both sites, and the nursing home residents and apartment tenants are eating meals in their rooms and apartments. 

“It’s part of social distancing — trying to keep people from being in close proximity to each other so they can’t spread the virus back and forth between each other,” Spates said. 

He said staff are constantly reminded and monitored for hand-washing and social distancing and are reminded of the importance of also doing so while off work. 

The Department of Health has advised them that other staff should monitor their symptoms and notify St. John’s and their physician if any COVID-19 symptoms arise. 

As of Wednesday afternoon, no nursing home residents or apartment tenants had tested positive for the virus. 

“We’re hoping it will stay that way,” he said. “This virus is very difficult to deal with, and it spreads.” 

In addition to testing temperatures of staff members, temperatures and overall health of all residents in the nursing homes and tenants in the apartments are checked daily. 

Spates said he is posting information regularly at the top of the St. John’s website to keep families informed, and families will be notified if a tenant or resident tests positive.