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36 nursing homes in Wisconsin report COVID-19 deaths, new federal data says
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36 nursing homes in Wisconsin report COVID-19 deaths, new federal data says

Celebrating 103

Family members and friends of Donald Harrop celebrate his 103rd birthday in April through a closed doorway at the Milestone Senior Living Center in Cross Plains. Milestone is not a nursing home, but loved ones have had to take similar precautions at nursing homes in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Thirty-six nursing homes in Wisconsin have reported a total of 124 COVID-19 deaths, according to new federal data that updates and changes previously released figures.

The 36 facilities, none of them in Dane County, each reported at least one death from the coronavirus as of June 7, according to information released this week by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS.

Orchard Manor in Lancaster reported the most COVID-19 deaths, with 12. Sunrise Health Services in Milwaukee, which CMS last week said reported 57 deaths as of May 31, has had nine, according to the new data as of June 7. That is the second most among the 36 facilities.

Menomonee Falls Health Services, which CMS last week said reported 12 deaths, is now shown to have had two.

As the Wisconsin State Journal reported last week, Geneva Lake Manor in Lake Geneva has reported eight COVID-19 deaths, and Bedrock HCS at Watertown has reported two.

For Greenway Manor in Spring Green, CMS said last week it had two deaths but the facility told the State Journal it had one. The new CMS figures say it has had one.

Last week, based on the CMS data available at the time, the State Journal said 28 nursing homes in the state reported a total of 146 deaths. The paper noted discrepancies in the data.

Additional facilities have reported deaths since then, and the total is lower because some of the data has changed.

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“This sort of national data for nursing homes is unprecedented and constitutes the backbone of a national COVID-19 virus surveillance system,” Seema Verma, CMS administrator, said in announcing the initial release of the data early this month.

But Verma said the data had “limitations” and urged caution in interpreting it, saying some facilities are struggling to report, others are making honest errors and quality control is still evolving.

Kristin Mueller, a spokeswoman for North Shore Healthcare, which owns Sunrise Health Services and Menomonee Falls Health Services, told the State Journal last week the CMS figures for COVID-19 deaths at the facilities were “significantly erroneous.” But she declined to provide figures she considered accurate.

Mueller said Thursday the new figures are correct and the earlier data “was likely entered in error.”

COVID-19 cases and deaths

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, 305, or 42%, of the state’s 719 COVID-19 deaths, as of Thursday, have been at nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.

Last month, the state health department started releasing names of nursing homes with at least one new confirmed case within the last 28 days. As of this week, there are 74 such facilities, including five in Dane County: Belmont Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Capitol Lakes Health Center, Nazareth Health and Rehabilitation Center, SSM Health St. Mary’s Care Center and the Villa at Middleton Village.

COVID-19 in photos: How Wisconsin is managing the pandemic

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