Mass testing at Good Samaritan Society shows no other COVID-19 cases

Published 4:17 pm Thursday, June 4, 2020

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2 employees test positive for the virus at St. John’s

Good Samaritan Society of Albert Lea skilled nursing residents underwent mass COVID-19 testing on Monday after one resident tested positive for the virus last week.

Administrator Katie Davis said all of the residents who were part of that testing were negative for COVID-19.

“While these test results are welcome news for all of us at the Good Samaritan Society, we do not see this as a sign to relax our vigorous infection control measures,” Davis said. “We will also continue with extra precautions to monitor the health of all residents and staff members. As always, the health, safety and well-being of our residents, staff and the community we serve is our top priority.”

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COVID-19 has proven particularly troublesome to residents of nursing home and assisted living facilities across the state and nation. According to the Minnesota Department of Health on Thursday, 896 of Minnesota’s 1,115 deaths have been people who resided in long-term care or assisted living facilities.

St. John’s Lutheran Community Administrator Scot Spates posted a letter to family and residents on the facility’s website this week stating an employee tested positive for COVID-19 who works at the nursing home on Minnesota Highway 13 and another employee tested positive who works at the Woodlands nursing home at the Fountain Lake campus.

The letter stated the two employees will be quarantined at home for 10 to 14 days or longer if their COVID-19 symptoms continue. As of Monday, no nursing home residents or apartment tenants had been diagnosed with the virus at St. John’s.

“We are monitoring all nursing home residents and apartment tenants every day for symptoms related to the COVID-19 virus,” Spates wrote. “During the pandemic, we’ve had residents and tenants that have been tested for the virus and fortunately all have come back negative.”

Spates said 10 employees have been tested since the two employees tested positive, and all of those have come back negative.

With the state starting to allow businesses to open, he said there are more opportunities for the virus to spread. St. John’s staff have been instructed to be extra diligent about infection control practices at work and to take precautions when out in public. He encouraged them to follow universal precautions, assuming every person they come in contact with has the virus and that every surface they touch, such as door knobs and keypads, has the virus on it.

Spates said the facility applied for mass testing this week for the Highway 13 site and once that is complete will then do so for the Fountain Lake site about two weeks after that. He said the state’s priority for mass testing is for nursing home or assisted living facilities that have had either residents, tenants or staff test positive for the virus.