MASON CITY, Iowa - Long-term care facilities, nursing homes and hospitals have been hit hard with cases throughout this pandemic, including one such facility in North Iowa.
Earlier this summer, Good Shepherd Health Center dealt with a large coronavirus outbreak, followed by a stretch of no activity before being hit with another outbreak, according to CEO Ian Stockberger.
"On October 16th, we began a second outbreak, which was on the upstairs portion of Good Shepherd. Currently, at this time, we have 16 positive residents left to go, and that number is falling weekly."
Those infected have reported mild symptoms, and this time, fewer residents have had to be hospitalized compared to the first outbreak. In terms of staff, 18 staff members have tested positive at this time.
"We've been keeping more routines in place, we've really been hammering nutrition, liquids, that type of stuff and not so much on the isolation side. I think the industry as a whole has really learned a lot about the effects of isolation on folks."
Now that the facility has gone through this twice, and with stronger procedures in place, Stockberger says the facility is in a better position now by trying to be ahead of the curve when dealing with an outbreak.
"The systems we put in place to deal with it and the staff that are comfortable dealing with it now, we've become quite the resource for the hospital. We're taking between 2-4 residents a day coming to us as COVID positive from the hospital that we are caring for, and the only reason that we're comfortable with it is our own experiences here."
As the facility follows Cerro Gordo County's positivity rate to determine how often to test for the virus, Stockberger says Good Shepherd tests twice a week now, up from once a week.
While the facility has allowed compassionate care visits like end of life care and psychological care, they are still encouraging virtual visits. Recently, the center's chaplain purchased some audio equipment to help enhance virtual visits with family.
Across town, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows Nursing Home and Assisted Living Facility released a statement on Tuesday for community members, asking that relatives do not take residents home with them for the holidays. While they understand it's difficult, the home is placing the health and wellbeing of loved ones as a top priority.