An outbreak at the Madison Valley Manor resulted in all but one resident contracting COVID-19. This photo was taken with a phone in a plastic bag to avoid contamination of the device. PHOTO COURTESY MADISON VALLEY MANOR

Just a matter of time

All but one Madison Valley Manor resident tests positive for Covid-19

As of Tuesday morning, only one Madison Valley Manor (MVM) resident remained in quarantine and the Covid unit inside MVM has been taken down after an outbreak on Jan. 10. Six staff members are still in quarantine.

“Let me just take all my gear off,” Alison Veland, MVM administrator in training, said.

The muffled sounds of perhaps scrubs, gloves or a mask could be heard on the other end of the phone.

Veland reported that 16 out of 17 residents at the Manor tested positive for COVID-19, triggering an outbreak on Jan. 10. A handful of residents were hospitalized as a result. Sixteen staff members tested positive.

“My view on this is to be completely transparent to the people we serve,” Veland said.

When asked about information released to The Madisonian last week, Madison County Public Information Officer Bonnie O’Neill explained that she cannot release information about employee or resident health, citing HIPAA regulations. Numbers of COVID-19 positive individuals fall into this category. She writes press releases with information provided by administrators or county health officials and they are released once approved.

“Whatever department heads need, I try my best to assist,” O’Neill said.

MVM was able to utilize Best Practice Medicine out of Bozeman to come by some emergency staffing to fill the holes left by missing 16 employees.

“The people that work here are heroes,” Veland said. She was emotional describing the stress but also her pride in the MVM team.

Madison County Nursing Home Administrator Steve McNeece pointed out that nursing home employees are going to work every single day with a highly contagious and dangerous disease in the air and yet maintain a positive attitude.

“I’m just really, really proud and grateful to all the employees at both the nursing homes. It just shows the tremendous dedication that they have to the community and to the residents and each other,” McNeece said.

Both McNeece and Veland explained that the Madison County Public Health Department, which is responsible for investigating outbreaks, has not been able to determine the source. MVM began allowing compassionate care visits related to end of life scenarios before the holidays via a closed off area that visitors could enter. Veland did not attribute the outbreak to these distanced, masked and sealed-off visits.

“Honestly, when it comes to a virus, it’s very seldom that we find a cause just because you can’t see (it),” Madison County Public Health Nurse Melissa Brummell said, and with COVID-19, the symptoms can be so subtle.

McNeece said Madison County started seeing higher prevalence rates over the summer, and some scenarios since then reached 30%.

“I think it was just a matter of time,” he said.

Testing efforts at the facility are driven by the prevalence rate in the county. Veland said staff and residents who tested negative are being rapid tested daily, and molecular PCR tests are done three times a week.

“I’m just so thankful for the quick work of Dr. Davenport and her guidance and efforts… there are people who had IV treatment that we were able to work closely with and she’s always been such a big supporter, and [I’m] so thankful that she’s in our community,” Veland said.

“The staff over there have done an amazing job,” Dr. Maura Davenport with the Madison Valley Medical Center said. “They kept Covid out for over 11 months before the outbreak, which is better than many of the nursing homes in the state.”

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