COVID-19

A local nursing home has more than four dozen confirmed cases of COVID-19.

CommuniCare, the managing company of Kokomo Healthcare Center, 429 W. Lincoln Rd., has confirmed to the Tribune its Kokomo facility has 50 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Frederick Stratmann, spokesperson and general counsel for Ohio-based CommuniCare, said the facility conducted testing on all of its residents on May 11 after a few residents began showing symptoms. According to an April facility report by the Indiana Department of Health, Kokomo Healthcare Center’s total residency in January was 78.

Of those who tested positive for COVID-19, Stratmann said 36 were asymptomatic. As of Tuesday afternoon, the facility has reported two deaths due to COVID-19. Stratmann said there are 46 residents at the facility that are currently in isolation.

To fight the virus, Stratmann said the facility is giving all residents with the virus – if medically appropriate to do so – anticoagulants, medicine that increases the time it takes for blood to clot, because the company says some of the deaths to COVID-19 have been due to strokes or blood clotting.

The company has also instructed its nurses to implement proning, which is basically having patients turn over onto their stomach or onto their side while lying down, to “open up” the lungs and allow more air to reach them. Proning has been adopted by health care facilities across the country as a way to treat COVID-19.

“We’re fighting back...based on the medical trends on how we can help our residents have a better chance of fighting this,” Stratmann said. “They’re not statistics to us, they’re the people who we see on a daily basis. We know them, we certainly know their families, and we feel badly when people are diagnosed positive. We mourn when we lose them.”

Kokomo Healthcare Center is one of “five to six” local nursing homes that have reported at least one case of COVID-19, according to Howard County Commissioner Paul Wyman.

One other nursing home the Tribune can confirm has at least one case of COVID-19 is Kokomo Golden Living Center, 2905 W. Sycamore St. The facility has “at least” confirmed cases, according to a media spokesperson.

“...our staff are taking all of the appropriate actions to protect the safety and well-being of our residents and staff,” the spokesperson said in an email. “This includes meeting the State and CMS [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] guidelines for reporting and notifying residents and the residents’ authorized contacts daily.”

Of the county’s slightly more than 300 total confirmed cases of COVID-19, 60 to 65 are from local nursing homes. Of the county’s 15 deaths due to the virus, roughly half are residents who were at those facilities, as of Monday. Notably, the state does not report how many who tested positive for the virus have recovered.

County officials, much like state officials, have refused to identify specifically the nursing homes affected since the beginning of the pandemic.

Indiana’s refusal to publicly identify affected facilities is in stark contrast to its four neighboring states, who all release such data.

Senior citizens continue to be the most at-risk population nationwide, and that’s no different in Howard County.

As of Tuesday, county residents over the age of 60 are 37% of total confirmed cases, but are 85.7% of the county’s deaths due to the virus, according to data by the Indiana Department of Health

Local officials are expecting the number of confirmed cases to increase due to the opening of a testing site at the Kokomo Senior Center last Wednesday. According to Wyman, the testing site has averaged more than 100 tests done a day since it’s been open.

Tyler Juranovich can be reached at 765-454-8577, by email at tyler.juranovich@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter at @tylerjuranovich

Tyler Juranovich can be reached at 765-454-8577, by email at tyler.juranovich@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter at @tylerjuranovich

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