ST. ALBANS TOWN –Northwestern Medical Center (NMC) has announced plans to assist the St. Albans Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center after residents and staff at the latter tested positive for COVID-19.
In a statement shared online Monday, the hospital said it would be joining the Vermont health department in helping advise the St. Albans Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center’s response to a reported outbreak.
“NMC is staying in close communication with the team at St. Albans Health & Rehab,” the hospital said. “As we share their team’s concern for their residents and staff, NMC has joined the Vermont Department of Health in helping advise on the situation.”
Genesis HealthCare, the St. Albans Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center’s owners, announced Friday that two members of the long-term care facility’s staff and six of its residents had tested positive for the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19.
The center is one of several long-term care facilities in Vermont with active outbreaks of COVID-19.
As of last week, more than 100 cases of COVID-19 had been connected by state officials to outbreaks at eight separate long-term care facilities in Vermont. One outbreak, in Rutland County, had resulted in at least five deaths stemming from complications of COVID-19.
Genesis HealthCare affirmed in a statement to the Messenger on Friday the company had been “stringent with restrictions and a whole host of other precautions” through the course of the pandemic.
State health department officials, meanwhile, attributed the outbreak to a member of the St. Albans facility’s staff likely picking up COVID-19 in the wider community before attending work while asymptomatic, only to later quarantine after showing symptoms and ultimately testing positive.
It was something officials, like health commissioner Dr. Mark Levine, said was likely the norm for outbreaks in Vermont’s long-term care centers, prompting calls from the commissioner for people to take pandemic mitigation measures like social distancing and mask wearing seriously.
“The major way we have to protect these facilities is protecting our communities, lowering the ability of the virus to spread from one person to another,” Levine said.
On Monday, NMC quoted Levine and echoed his sentiments in their own statement about the reported outbreak at the St. Albans Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center.
“Vermont has been a national leader in containing the spread of COVID-19,” the St. Albans hospital’s statement read. “As our numbers increase and vulnerable populations are threatened, we must each do our part to protect others.”
NMC announced last month it would again be restricting visitations to its St. Albans campus amid an ongoing regional surge in COVID-19.