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Several patients, staff members of Green Valley nursing home test positive for COVID-19
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Several patients, staff members of Green Valley nursing home test positive for COVID-19

From the April's Tucson-area coronavirus coverage: 1,200+ Pima County cases, stay-home order extended series

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At least four residents and two staff members have tested positive for the coronavirus at Santa Rita Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Green Valley, an official confirmed Tuesday.

“There are no fatalities and it has been reported to the Pima County Health Department and the Arizona Department of Health Services,” said Amy Malkin, chief operating officer of the facility at 150 N. La Cañada Drive. “The Green Valley Fire District is also aware and the patients’ primary care doctors,” she said.

The average age of residents in the facility, which has 51 in the nursing home unit, is 85, and the average age of staff workers is about 40, Malkin said. She said nursing-home residents are “all stable at this time and being monitored,” adding that some did test positive and are showing a low-grade temperature.

She said those in the facility are in isolation. “We are taking precautions on everyone at this point, and treating all as though they have it. We are being extra-cautious. Residents remain in their own rooms and there is no communal dining,” said the chief operating officer, explaining that the center has followed state protocols for nursing homes and assisted living centers for weeks.

On March 28, one patient in an isolated room said they had a dry cough, and the person tested positive for the new coronavirus. Since then, more have confirmed positive, but Malkin would not release the total number of residents.

Among those who tested positive were two patients who were in stable condition and did not need any more therapy. They were discharged to their home with personal protective equipment where they were to self-isolate. They did not have to go to a hospital, and their spouses were educated about their care by the staff preventionist nurse, said Malkin. Also, the staff is doing follow-up on these two patients.

Sixteen people who were at the center for therapy and who were not showing symptoms were discharged and told to self-isolate at home, she said.

No one has been allowed into the facility for several weeks, which is a safety protocol instituted by local, state and federal authorities to prevent the spread of the disease.

The center is not accepting new admissions. Televisits are done with patients’ doctors, said Malkin. “We are concentrating on keeping our current people healthy,” she said.

“The skilled nursing facilities are working with the county and the state. We receive calls that keep us updated, and the county has been giving us equipment — masks and gowns — that are very much appreciated, Malkin said, adding that facilities must agree to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for extended use of personal protective equipment.

“We go out on our own to hardware stores every day or every other day to purchase masks, gloves, coveralls and goggles. We are trying to keep all in stock,” she said.

The staff is working to keep families contacted to their loved ones through Facebook postings and Skype, Malkin said.

Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at cduarte@tucson.com or 573-4104. On Twitter: @cduartestar

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