Wisconsin DHS works to release list of nursing homes with COVID-19 investigations

Posted at 10:34 PM, May 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-09 13:07:38-04

State Health officials are still working to assemble a list of specific long-term care facilities that they are actively investigating for COVID-19 outbreaks.

A spokesperson said the list could be posted on the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website sometime next week.

Generally speaking, health officials are investigating 123 long-term care facilities throughout the state for coronavirus outbreaks. As of Friday, data provided by the DHS indicates that 41 percent of the state's 384 deaths are linked to long-term care facilities.

Coronavirus data provided by Milwaukee County lists the latest three COVID-19 deaths as residents of long-term care facilities. One of the deceased was a resident of The Villa at Bradley Estates. Four people listed as residents at The Villa at Bradley Estates have died of coronavirus complications within the last two weeks.

A spokesperson for the facility released the following statement:

The Villa at Bradley Estates is devastated by any loss of life. During this pandemic loss of life has been particularly heartbreaking, as our staff have been working around the clock during this very difficult time, fighting this silent enemy."

The statement also said as of Friday, Villa at Bradley Estates has had 23 residents test positive, which makes up close to 14 percent of the facility's population.

"We are continuously working towards better handling those long-term care facilities as it is one of the vulnerable populations," said Dr. Sanjib Bhattacharyya, Laboratory Director at the City of Milwaukee Health Department.

John Vander Meer is the President and CEO of the Wisconsin Health Care Association and the Wisconsin Center for Assisted Living. His organization represents hundreds of long-term care facilities across the state. He works closely with DHS, but he doesn't agree in publishing a list of facilities with coronavirus.

"We don't necessarily see this as something that serves a specific public health benefit," Vander Meer said. "I think that our facilities and the long-term care provider community care a great deal about transparency and we want to do everything we can to keep the public informed about necessary elements for their decision making. But the main area where this will affect is individuals who are potentially considering admission to a facility."

Vander Meer says many providers have been proactive in communicating with residents, staff and families, as well as in taking extra steps to ensure safety. He said many facilities face workforce shortages and budget issues as they spend more and more on personal protective equipment.

He says a coronavirus case at a facility does not reflect the level of care there.

In fact, Lasata Care Center in Port Washington announced an outbreak there had been resolved.

"This is a public health crisis in which facilities are really doing everything they can to protect the health and safety of their residents," Vander Meer said.

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Coronavirus in Wisconsin

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