By Lynn Binnie
Whitewater Banner Staff
Long-term care facilities, in Wisconsin and nationally, have been hot spots for outbreaks of COVID-19. As of last Wednesday there were 164 residences in the state (which would include assisted living and skilled nursing) that had had confirmed cases among residents and/or staff. Gov. Tony Evers announced on May 4 that every resident and employee in all 373 Wisconsin nursing homes would receive a free coronavirus test as part of a plan to expand testing to everyone who needs one. According to the Department of Health Services, as of May 26 approximately 76% of these long-term care providers are testing or have tested their residents and staff.
Fairhaven Senior Services decided to take the plan a step further and conduct 407 tests, for all residents and staff members, whether in the apartments, assisted living, skilled nursing, Hearthstone or Prairie Village. It was a project that was a three day effort, with tests being submitted to a Madison lab on a daily basis. Any positive results were to be reported to the infection control nurse within approximately two days.
Paul Kuenning, President and CEO of Fairhaven, told the Jefferson County Daily Union, “It is our hope that all 420 tests come back negative, but we are bracing and prepared for the possibility that it might not be the case.” He concluded: “We feel it is best to continue to keep our residents, family and others informed as we continue to navigate through COVID-19. Knowing that all results will not be in until the weekend, we are continuing to keep all precautions in place for residents, staff and visitors as guided by the CDC and state/local health officials.”
Mr. Kuenning told the Banner that as of the afternoon of Tuesday, May 26, no positive results had been reported to Fairhaven. UPDATE 5/27: Mr. Kuenning reports that all of the tests came back negative. Currently visitors are still not permitted, though Kuenning stated, “We are reviewing the three phase guidelines for facilities’ reentry into the community. This takes into account resident population, community prevalence and access to medical services and hospitals.”
Meanwhile, a front-page article in The Gazette on May 26 is titled, “Fairhaven Residents in Whitewater Adjust to COVID-19’s ‘New Normal.'” Interviews are featured with several people living at Fairhaven. The life plan community has signs on the entrances to the property saying, “Heroes live here.”