Susie Flanagan is still grieving the loss of her 91-year-old mother, who died from COVID-19 in April.
So it really stings when she leaves her Lopatcong Township home and passes by a sign outside her mother’s former nursing home declaring: “We beat COVID.”
Her teenage kids ride past it on their bikes. Her family simply can’t escape it.
The sign drives home that Nora Giordano is no longer with them. That this resident of Genesis HealthCare’s Brakeley Park Center, 290 Red School Lane, did not beat COVID-19.
“Do you have to do it in the neighborhood where people live who lost their family members?” Flanagan said. “I am just really appalled.”
The disease caused by the novel coronavirus took Giordano’s life and the lives of at least 25 other Brakeley Park nursing home residents, according to New Jersey’s list of cases in long-term care facilities.
In total, 95 residents and 29 workers at Brakeley Park contracted the disease. At Genesis’s neighboring Lopatcong Center, 100 residents and 24 employees were sickened and 27 residents died.
Genesis spokeswoman Lori Mayer asked lehighvalleylive.com to extend apologies to loved ones hurt by the sign. It will be removed, she said.
Flanagan was grateful to hear the sign would come down.
Brakeley Park Center is currently free of COVID-19 cases and testing and quarantining new residents, Mayer said Wednesday evening.
The center is now admitting new patients into a quarantine unit where they are monitored for 14 days. New residents are tested on days one, four and 12, and screened for symptoms every eight hours. After two weeks, patients are discharged from the quarantine unit.
“Every day counts, and faster, broader testing is one of our greatest weapons against the spread of this virus,” Mayer said. “By identifying who has it and who doesn’t early and frequently thereafter, we can separate positives from negatives in order to save lives. This is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently issued guidance for up to weekly testing.”
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced on May 12 that all long-term care facility residents and staff would be tested for the coronavirus. The pandemic has so far taken the lives of more than 6,500 nursing home residents in New Jersey.
In Warren County, 82% of its 147 COVID-19 deaths were residents of long-term care facilities. Conversely, nursing home residents represent just 34% of the county’s 1,230 cases, as of June 30.
“States have a varying approach to these testing recommendations and it will be important for states to be vigilant, backed by adequate laboratory capacity and funding to handle the volume,” Mayer said.
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Sara K. Satullo may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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