Utah senior care centers prepare for possible COVID-19 outbreak

Local News

HOLLADAY (ABC4 News) – Utah’s senior care facilities like nursing homes and assisted-living centers are preparing for a possible viral outbreak.

The novel coronavirus has caused the deaths of 13 residents of the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington where 11 others have died of as-yet-unknown causes and 70 employees have tested positive for the virus.

“It’s definitely scary,” Breanna McWillis told ABC4 News Monday.

McWillis is the Lead Medical Technician at Alta Ridge Assisted Living in Holladay where employees are taking every precaution to protect residents and ensure a Kirkland-type outbreak doesn’t happen here.

“We’re just increasing hand washing and sanitizing,” McWillis said. “If anyone is coughing we just put them in their rooms and keep a mask on to prevent any possible spread of the infection.” 

Alta Ridge did a thorough cleaning Monday morning and has a doctor and a nurse on standby 24 hours a day plus a plan in place if they notice any sign of the virus that causes COVID-19.

“We have isolation gear so we have the gowns and the shoe covers and all that stuff,” McWillis said.  “If somebody, if they were to get the virus they’d probably end up going to the hospital where they’d get better quarantine.”

Meanwhile Allie Spangler, of the Utah Health Care Association, is passing along guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and local health departments to their member facilities, advising their employees and residents’ family members to stay away if they’re sick.

“If you have a loved one in a care facility just be cautious about going into the facility,” Spangler said. “If you’re not feeling well stay home. We’re so lucky we live in a generation where you can FaceTime, you can text, you’ve got social media so just be aware of your health and the people around you and if you can just maybe limit your visitation right now.”

Spangler emphasized that nursing homes and assisted living facilities are among the safest places in an outbreak because of the medical care, cleanliness and the separation from the general public they provide.

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