The Villa at Middleton Village is among 38 nursing homes in Wisconsin with active investigations for COVID-19 and the only one in Dane County, the state Department of Health Services said Wednesday.
For the first time, DHS released names of nursing homes with active investigations, meaning the facilities have at least one resident or staff member who recently tested positive for the coronavirus.
The state didn’t say how many cases each facility has had. The average at nursing homes and assisted living facilities with investigations has been eight cases, with one having 83 cases. The state has about 350 nursing homes.
At the Villa at Middleton Village, a nurse tested positive early this month and has been away from work since the previous day, administrator Danielle Gennuso said. Another employee tested positive earlier and has recovered, and a contract worker tested positive early in the outbreak, she said.
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None of the 59 residents at the 97-bed facility in Middleton, some of whom have been tested for COVID-19, has been positive, Gennuso said. The facility is screening employees at the door, tracking resident symptoms every shift and following other federal guidelines to prevent spread of the respiratory disease, she said.
The state’s release of the nursing home list follows new federal rules last month requiring nursing homes to report COVID-19 cases to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Wisconsin, DHS last month started identifying outbreaks by region and setting, such as at long-term care facilities in general.
“As we continue to see cases of COVID-19 in nursing homes, it is important to be transparent and list the locations where they are occurring,” DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm said Wednesday in a statement. “We have opted to publish the names of nursing homes in order to provide peace of mind to families who cannot visit or check on their loved ones during these unprecedented times.”
Leaders of the state’s two nursing home associations wrote to Palm and Gov. Tony Evers last week, asking them not to release names of facilities with COVID-19 cases.
“Our members fear the decision to publicly identify COVID-positive providers will lead to a de facto public shaming of facilities; will cause undue stress on residents, staff, and families; and will make the already challenging task of recruiting new caregivers even more difficult,” said the letter by John Vander Meer, CEO of the Wisconsin Health Care Association, and John Sauer, CEO of LeadingAge Wisconsin.
“This policy may also create the unintended consequence of disincentivizing nursing homes from admitting COVID-positive or COVID-unknown patients for fear of being stigmatized via public disclosure,” they wrote.
DHS said there have been 46 COVID-19 investigations at nursing homes overall, meaning eight probes are no longer active.
Dane County has had two. The nursing home at Oakwood Village’s University Woods campus on Madison’s West Side said early last month that four residents and seven workers had tested positive.
As of Tuesday, the Oakwood facility had no new resident cases in the past four weeks, according to Julie Holden, vice president of campus operations. One employee is not working after testing positive, and a resident admitted to the hospital Monday subsequently tested positive, Holden said.
Overall at long-term care facilities, which include nursing homes and assisted living facilities, there have been 134 COVID-19 investigations, including 14 in Dane County, DHS said.
As of Wednesday, such facilities have had 181 COVID-19 deaths, or 43% of the state’s total. As of May 8, such facilities had a total of 615 cases, or 6% of the state’s total.