Henrico to nursing homes: We are here for you

—County manager, health director discuss COVID-19 outbreak, resources available for facilities

As a long-term care center in western Henrico confronts a devastating outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus among its residents and staff, Henrico County is urging similar facilities to take advantage of support and resources available from their local government.

“When we knock on your door, let us in,” County Manager John A. Vithoulkas said. “When we call, pick up the phone. Henrico County will provide any resource available to help you navigate this COVID-19 scourge.”

The county manager’s remarks, directed toward the 41 nursing homes, assisted-living centers and similar facilities in Henrico, came during an April 2 press conference on the continuing outbreak of the virus at Canterbury Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center.

Dr. Danny Avula, director of the Richmond and Henrico Health Districts

Dr. Danny Avula, director of the Richmond and Henrico Health Districts, presented the results of comprehensive COVID-19 testing on residents at Canterbury. As of noon April 2, 16 residents had died from COVID-19 and another 92 had tested positive for the virus. Of those residents testing positive, 39 are experiencing symptoms and are being treated, while 53 are not showing symptoms.

Avula said the health department is working closely with Canterbury staff to monitor those asymptomatic individuals for potential development of symptoms.   

“So many of us are looking for answers,” Avula said. “How do we control the spread of the virus at Canterbury or another facility?

“We are dealing with an enemy in COVID-19 that is extremely difficult to identify and extremely difficult to control,” he said. “Despite the best efforts of the medical staff, the testing community and everybody involved, we’re still seeing significant spread.”

Avula added that 26 members of Canterbury’s staff had tested positive for the virus. Health care workers are being asked not to work shifts at multiple facilities, recognizing that could be a means for transmission of the virus, he said.

Information gained from the response to the outbreak at Canterbury will aid response efforts at similar facilities in the area, the health director said, noting that clusters of COVID-19 cases have been confirmed at six additional nursing homes in Henrico and Richmond.

Vithoulkas said the county has worked to connect Canterbury with private ambulance services, with resources for personal protective equipment and supplies and with health care staffing companies. He said Henrico is contacting other long-term care facilities to help assess their needs and offer the county’s support. “We know that this is an extremely difficult time for the residents of Canterbury and other assisted-living facilities, as well as for their families and loved ones,” Vithoulkas said. “I want to assure you that Henrico County is here for you. The health and well-being of all of our residents is a top priority, now more than ever.”

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