Samaritan Keep Home addresses COVID-19 outbreak after 34 residents test positive

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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — Representatives from Samaritan Health are addressing a COVID outbreak currently impacting one of its long-term care facilities.

On October 16, Samaritan Keep Home in Watertown confirmed a COVID outbreak among its residents. Initially, there were 13 residents positive, but since the first announcement, the facility has confirmed new cases every day.

Samaritan Health Director of Communication and Public Relations Leslie DiStefano confirmed that as of October 22, 34 residents had tested positive for the virus and there were 18 active cases among staff members.

In response, Samaritan Keep Home is keeping all COVID-positive residents in a designated unit inside the facility to mitigate the spread of the virus. Staff members are also being placed in cohorts to deter any further spread. All staff and residents are also being tested on a regular basis. Eligible residents are also receiving monoclonal antibody therapy.

DiStefano also reported that Samaritan’s other long-term care facilities, Summit Village Skilled Nursing and Assisted Living, are also experiencing a rise in COVID cases. However, this is the first outbreak the Keep Home has experienced a year and a half after the pandemic first began. She said this speaks to the true dangers of the virus.

“At Samaritan Keep Home, before this outbreak, there has not been that many positive cases or positive residents,” DiStefano noted. “However it shows you how contagious this virus is and how quickly it can spread.”

Samaritan Health has also expedited its schedule to administer booster shots to all long-term care patients and staff. DiStefano confirmed that 146 booster shots were administered to Keep Home residents, and 96 residents at the Samaritan Summit Village Skilled Nursing facility received the booster shot. Summit Village Assisted Living residents are scheduled to receive booster shots in the last week of October.

Family visitation has been paused at the Keep Home since early October after staff members began testing positive for the virus, DiStefano said this will continue until the facility can get a hold of the outbreak.

And in a final statement, DiStefano pleaded the community to take the virus seriously.

“We have the highest positivity rate, to my knowledge, in the state, and we have had patients in our inpatient unit at [Samaritan Medical Center] for weeks now,” DiStefano shared. “The virus is very prevalent and we all have to keep our guard up, get vaccinated, wear your mask, wash your hands, it has not gone away. Clearly, even though treatments have come so far, it is still a risk in this area.”

Samaritan Health confirmed that it will release updates on new COVID-19 cases at its long-term care facilities as they are identified in the coming days.

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