Multiple COVID-19 deaths confirmed at Bluffton nursing home

By J Swygart -

LIMA — Eight residents at the Mennonite Memorial Home in Bluffton have died from COVID-19, and 11 more have tested positive for the virus. Those numbers, however, are not contained in the latest data released Wednesday by the Ohio Department of Health.

A second set of figures showing the number of COVID-19 cases in nursing homes and long-term senior care facilities across Ohio was unveiled Wednesday — less than a week after the initial list proved to be horrendously inaccurate.

The new numbers may be no more reliable than was the first set of data, according to a state health department spokeswoman.

The state debuted its initial list of coronavirus cases in long-term care facilities on April 16, but one day later that list was removed from the online database after incomplete data was found across the board. Three Allen County facilities and two in Auglaize County were included on that initial list.

Inaccuracies are also contained in the data released Wednesday, according to Melanie Amato, public information officer for the Ohio Department of Health. “We’re still working out the bugs” in the reporting system, Amato said. “The website will be updated constantly.”

A publish report surrounding the coronavirus deaths and positive test results at Mennonite Memorial Home was confirmed Wednesday by local health officials. Tami Gough, spokeswoman for the Allen County Health Department, said a published report about the eight deaths and 11 confirmed positive tests at the Bluffton facility is accurate.

Calls to the facility were not returned Wednesday.

Leipsic facility also hard-hit

Updated figures posted Wednesday on the state website showed a significant outbreak has also taken place over the past week at the Meadows of Leipsic nursing home and assisted living facilities in Putnam County. Eleven nursing home residents and four staff members have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to the state figures. One resident of the assisted living facility also tested positive.

“The Putnam County Health Department is working with the Meadows of Leipsic staff to contain the spread of COVID-19 through isolation of those who are ill and contacting those who may have been exposed,” Putnam County Health Commissioner Kim Rieman said after the outbreak was first determined late last week. “The health department will help in any way possible to decrease the spread, both in the facility and in the community in general.”

A representative from Trilogy Health Services, parent company of the Meadows of Leipsic, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Data released Wednesday also showed confirmed cases of the virus at five Allen County long-term care facilities. Three residents and three employees at CareCore at Lima nursing home tested positive and one employee at Lima Convalescent Home was included on the list.

Residents at The Springs of Lima assisted living facility (1), Mennonite Memorial Home Nursing home (2) and Liberty Nursing Centers of Lima (1) were also among the confirmed positive tests.

Last week’s initial state listing of nursing home residents and staff members tested revealed seven confirmed positive tests for the virus in Allen County; five at Mennonite Memorial Home in Bluffton and one each at Lima Manor and Shawnee Manor. In Auglaize County, one positive test was noted at Otterbein-St. Marys Senior Life Community and four were listed at Otterbein-Cridersville, although an Otterbein spokesman said those figures were already outdated by the time they were published online.

The Ohio Department of Health database released Wednesday shows 558 residents of long-term care facilities and 223 employees at 61 facilities statewide have tested positive for COVID-19.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced Monday that Ohio will begin reporting aggregate death data for nursing homes and assisted living facilities at the county level. Because Ohio’s reporting module must be modified to accurately collect this information, the data will likely begin to be reported next week, according to the state’s website.

By J Swygart

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