Health & Wellness

Virus issues linger

With the population over 80 years old showing a 15 percent greater mortality rate after contracting the coronavirus, Magnolia Gardens Executive Director Tara Blount said the senior center is taking extra precautions – just to be safe.
As of presstime Tuesday, there were 15 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Oregon, none of which were in Lane County. On Monday, the first positive case in Multnomah County popped up. The person is age 55 to 74 and is being treated at the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center, health officials said. There are still 67 results pending and 214 have been proven negatives.
The assisted living and memory care facility in Cottage Grove on Monday locked its doors and will screen all inquiring visitors.
The restrictions are put in place for two weeks, though may fluctuate depending on the spread of the virus, Blount said. Additionally, all outings, entertainers and some activities have been restricted at the facility, which houses 67 residents.
“Being prepared and staying ahead of it is our best course of action right now and will hopefully help to prevent the virus from making it into our building in the event that it reaches Lane County,” Blount said.
Blount said the facility this week is sending out letters to families and is working on ways for families to electronically communicate via telephone and video calling, like Skype and Facetime.
The DHS Office of Aging and People with Disabilities, which has regulatory oversight of long-term care providers in Oregon, will conduct reviews at approximately 670 facilities statewide. In the process of doing reviews, the team will provide technical assistance to facilities on infection control and emergency planning if it is determined that it is needed.
DHS visited Magnolia Gardens Tuesday to review the protocol, interview residents and staff and observe the facility. Blount said DHS found no concerns or negative findings.
“DHS had no further suggestions for us at this time other than to continue doing what we are doing,” Blount said.
Other senior care facilities, including Coast Fork Nursing Center and Creswell Health & Rehabilitation Center, did not respond to Chronicle inquiries by presstime.
There are over 30 nursing facilities in the county and six senior facilities in South Lane County, South Lane County Fire & Rescue Division Chief Joe Raade said.
He said that on a regular basis, year-round, SLCF&R responds to senior facility medical calls about flu-like symptoms five or six times a day. He has not reported any upticks in calls from these facilities since the corona outbreak.
He did say that there have been senior centers elsewhere in Lane County that have had influenza outbreaks.
“Personally, I am more worried about getting the flu than the coronavirus,” Raade said.
In the thick of flu season combined with the threat of coronavirus, don’t be alarmed if you see fire personnel answering a service call in hospital garb — pale blue gowns, gloves and goggles. Raade said using that equipment is protocol when someone calls in with a cough or a respiratory illness.
“We don’t want the community to panic. Seeing us dressed like that does not mean it is the coronavirus; we are just taking precautions,” Raade said, noting that personnel are trained to treat every possible respiratory illness the same, and there are a lot of them going around right now.
“Until testing is done (on the sick person), we don’t know what it is for sure, but the odds are high that it is not the coronavirus and is the regular flu,” Raade said.
Raade predicts that in a few weeks there will be more coronavirus cases, and would not be surprised if some of them popped up in Lane County, noting that practicing common sense hygiene is the best preventative measure.
One way Creswell residents are practicing good hygiene is by crafting their own disinfectants.
Creswell HealthMart Pharmacist Brennan Black said customers who have been purchasing liquid alcohol solutions make their own sanitizers in lieu of bottled hand sanitizers, which are in high demand and of short supply.
“There is a little bit of panic driving some people, though the situation may not be as critical as they think it is,” Black said.
Overall, though, morale has been good among customers, Black said. “People are taking it in stride pretty well. There are minimal situations of hoarding products. Customers have been picking up a couple of bottles, not in extreme bulk or anything. That’s not really Creswell; folks stay pretty calm around here.”
He said some customers come in looking for masks. Black advised that only certain masks with proper filtration capabilities would prevent the spread of coronavirus, though masks in general are largely unnecessary in this situation.
The best thing to do, Black said, is to kick it back to the basics by washing your hands with hot, soapy water for 20 seconds.
Black said that singing the alphabet while washing your hands is a good trick to use to keep on pace, adding that washing your hands is also more effective than using hand sanitizers.
Most people with coronavirus have mild symptoms. If you are feeling sick with mild symptoms and do not need to seek medical care, stay home while you recover.
The Lane County call center is open during the week to answer community questions regarding the most up-to-date information on the coronavirus.
The call center at 541-682-138 will be staffed by Lane County Health and Human Services employees, and will be available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for non-emergency inquiries.



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