The new coronavirus has killed 24 people from seven Oregon senior care homes, accounting for just under half of all deaths in the state attributed to the infection, according to numbers state officials released Saturday.
It’s the first time the state has acknowledged the disease has preyed so heavily on the vulnerable people living in senior homes and comes after The Oregonian/OregonLive reported Friday that 10 residents from Healthcare at Foster Creek had died.
All the homes with deaths and outbreaks on the state list are west of the Cascades from the Portland metro area to Keizer to Corvallis. The majority of deaths appear to be among elderly residents. It’s unclear if any are employees because the state withheld that information.
The full scale of illness and death in Oregon senior care homes remains unclear because the state excluded nearly two dozen facilities with at least one case from the list.
In response to the alarming rise in cases, the state announced it has contracted with one of the Portland homes to open a 47-bed emergency center to treat elderly patients.
The virus poses a particular threat to older people and those with underlying conditions, especially those who live in group settings like nursing homes and assisted living communities.
The Department of Human Services and the Oregon Health Authority, the state’s two chief health agencies, said in a statement they have now partnered to respond to the heightened threat.
As part of that work, they pooled their data and compiled case and death counts across senior care homes, which they used to produce the new numbers. They also are focusing help for now on Foster Creek and Laurelhurst Village, another Southeast Portland nursing home hard-hit by the disease.
“By forming a multidisciplinary team, we are able to more quickly provide a long-term care facility with interventions and support to assist them in controlling COVID-19 infections,” said Mike McCormick, interim director of the Department of Human Services’ division that oversees senior care homes. "We are deeply concerned about every long-term care resident, facility staff member, and their families, who have been touched by this virus.”
The two-agency effort includes a contract with Laurelhurst Village to turn one of the facility’s buildings into an emergency center for patients with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
The team will find staff to work at nursing homes, assisted living centers and adult care homes with outbreaks and work to help them acquire protective equipment. The team also will work to ensure sick residents are isolated and try to identify the source of the outbreak, state officials said in the statement.
The state agencies provided numbers only for nine senior care homes that have at least five total coronavirus cases.
Seven of the homes have recorded coronavirus deaths, from nine at Foster Creek (the state list apparently doesn’t include the death of a patient there who had a presumed positive case as employees reported to The Oregonian/OregonLive) to six at Astor House Senior Living at Springbrook Oaks in Newberg and three at Laurelhurst Village.
Another three senior care homes have one death each: the Beaverton-area Regency Park Assisted Living and Regency Park Alzheimer’s Care, Marquis Marian Estates in Sublimity, and Corvallis Manor.
The nine facilities have more than 135 cases combined, according to the state’s data. The numbers are provisional, the agencies said, and current as of Saturday.
The state agencies noted that 32 senior care homes statewide currently have at least one person sick with coronavirus -- not including facilities where sick patients have recovered.
The list of senior care homes and their respective case and death counts does not include the 23 facilities that have fewer than five cases – even if one or more of the patients has died. And the Oregon Health Authority has not provided total case and death counts for all homes in the state, despite a newsroom request for the numbers one week ago.
As of Saturday, 51 Oregonians have died of the coronavirus or its complications.
Correction: The state information was incorrect. The state reported the Lebanon veterans home had four deaths when it only had three. The state also said that its case count for the veterans home was incorrect, but did not provide an accurate number.
-- Fedor Zarkhin
desk: 503-294-7674|cell: 971-373-2905|@fedorzarkhin
This story, originally published in The Oregonian/OregonLive, was shared with The Lund Report through an agreement among more than a dozen news outlets that are sharing their coronavirus coverage.