CDC ‘strike team’ dispatched to Kings Mountain nursing home day after visiting Salisbury facility

CDC sending ‘strike team’ to local nursing home hit with 2 COVID-19 outbreaks

SALISBURY, N.C. — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is dispatching a strike team to a local nursing home that has the largest virus outbreak in the state one day after visiting a nursing home in Rowan County that has battled two COVID-19 outbreaks.

The team of physicians, physicians' assistants, nurses, technicians and other medical care personnel visited The Citadel in Salisbury on Thursday. The nursing home battled one of worst COVID-19 outbreaks in North Carolina, only to be hit with a second outbreak earlier this month.

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In the latest outbreak, state officials said seven people tested positive for the virus. At one point, the nursing home reported that 150 people got sick, and at least 18 of them died from the virus.

Attorneys for families who live inside the home filed new affidavits last week in a state lawsuit against the facility. A family member complained of new staffing shortages.

Patricia Cohen said she also believes shortages have affected her brother at the facility. She said she hopes the problem doesn’t interfere with the fight against the latest outbreak.

“Any outbreak makes me concerned,” Cohen said. “How big is it gonna get? Hopefully, it don’t get any bigger, you know?”

According to Rowan County officials, the team walked through the facility to help provide insight into the nursing home’s outbreaks. The CDC started using COVID strike teams in July. They target nursing homes with active outbreaks and work to reduce the spread of the virus.

“I want this center to be off the outbreak list as quickly as absolutely possible," said Kim Morrow, chief operating officer for Accordius Health, the company that runs The Citadel.

Morrow said the strike teams found no glaring issues and that they wanted to see that the facility had an effective infection control plan and learn from what happened during the outbreaks.

In recent years, they’ve used strike teams for viruses like Zika and Ebola.

The team will also be visiting three other facilities in the state, including White Oak Manor in Kings Mountain, conducting the same activity at each site.

Rowan County’s Health Director said the teams are going to take all the information that they learned and put it into a report with suggestions and feedback that can help officials in the future.

Statement from Accordius Health on the CDC’s visit:

"Accordius Health is excited for the opportunity to meet with the teams from CMS, CDC and public health department. When providers and federal health officials collaborate in ways like this, everyone benefits.

"We value strong partnerships with health officials at all levels because we are committed to common goals related to safety and quality. We look forward to consulting with some of the nation’s leading experts in infection control, benefiting their expertise and sharing our on the ground perspective.

"Our team will discuss specific challenges faced over the last 5 months, from access to PPE to delays in receiving test results. We’ll also discuss larger issues, including the ongoing staffing challenges that have impacted nursing homes across the nation for many years and the innovative ideas we for bringing people to the industry.

“We believe this visit with our federal health official partners will prove valuable as we continue our commitment of clinical excellence, and enhancing quality of life by placing our residents at the center of their care.”

Previous statement from The Citadel:

Citadel Salisbury leadership and staff have remained diligent in efforts to recover from the COVID-19 outbreak that impacted the community this spring. Ensuring residents are cared for in a safe and healthy environment is our first priority.

To protect our vulnerable residents, we deployed the following aggressive actions to reduce the risk of COVID-19 in our residents and staff:

Frequent environmental disinfection especially focused on sanitation of hard and often-touched surfaces. Our infection prevention team continues providing frequent education and guidance to all staff and residents.

We are limiting resident activities within the facility. Group activities remain suspended. Residents receive personal in-room visits and enjoy other socially distanced activities.

Visitation remains restricted except for specific situations, such as end of life. We are following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a necessary action to protect the health of our residents. Those who enter the building are required to limit their visit to a designated area within the building, wear a facemask, and frequently clean their hands.

We are monitoring health care personnel and residents for symptoms. In addition to weekly testing, all residents, employees, and critical health care staff continue to be screened daily for fever and other signs of illness. Our goal is to quickly identify ill residents and implement additional infection prevention activities. If ill residents are identified, they will be isolated in their rooms, monitored closely, and asked to wear a mask.

There are currently 5 positive staff and 2 positive residents; one residing on campus. All positive individuals have been quarantined to prevent the spread of the virus, and we will continue to conduct baseline and follow-up testing of residents and staff members in accordance with guidance from the CDC.

In Rowan County, the infection rate per 100,000 residents is among the highest in the state, more than 50% above the state average. The percentage of positive tests is 9.09%, which is 35% higher than the state average. Research from Harvard, Brown and the University of Chicago indicates that the single greatest factor that determines whether a nursing home has a COVID-19 outbreak is the prevalence of COVID-19 in the surrounding community.

Research also shows that COVID-19 affects nursing facilities regardless of their quality ratings or profit status. (Details on the research can be found here and here.)

Staffing challenges have been an ongoing concern for healthcare facilities across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Citadel Salisbury continues to invest in staff and resources to meet immediate and long-term needs of the residents we serve. Our team remains in close contact with Health Department and regulatory agencies, and we will continue to provide updated information as the situation evolves.

'A monster’: Kings Mountain facility battling largest nursing home virus outbreak in NC