MHS facilities in multiple states report COVID cases

Apr 7, 2020 by and

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At least seven residents at Mennonite Home Communities in Lancaster, Pa., who tested positive for COVID-19 had died as of April 14. Twelve staff members tested positive and were self-isolating.

Mennonite Home Communities in Lancaster, Pa., is one of multiple Mennonite Health Services member institutions dealing with COVID-19 cases. — Dale D. Gehman

Mennonite Home Communities in Lancaster, Pa., is one of multiple Mennonite Health Services member institutions dealing with COVID-19 cases. — Dale D. Gehman

MHC is one of at least seven Mennonite Health Services members in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Iowa that had residents or staff testing positive.

MHS is a national association of 78 Anabaptist health and human service providers that includes senior living, mental and behavioral health, programs for intellectual developmental disabilities, troubled children and families, and acute care hospitals.

As of April 14, communities with positive cases include:

— MHC — seven residents of 37 testing positive died, and 12 staff members tested positive;

— Garden Spot Village in New Holland, Pa. — one of three residents testing positive died, and one staff member tested positive;

— Mennonite Home Communities of Ohio in Bluffton — one deceased resident;

— Landis Homes in Lititz, Pa. — one deceased resident;

— Pleasantview Homes in Kalona, Iowa — two staff members tested positive;

— Sunshine (for people with intellectual disabilities) in Mau­mee, Ohio — one caregiver and one client in a group home tested positive;

— Greencroft in Goshen, Ind. — one resident tested positive.

MHC CEO John Sauder said in an April 10 online video that a COVID-19 team was established in early March and met almost daily to review information about control and prevention.

“Despite our incredible efforts, COVID-19 unfortunately found its way into Mennonite Home Communities on March 26, 2020,” he said. “I can assure you that we are going to keep doing whatever it takes to battle COVID-19. We are carefully monitoring and tracking all Mennonite Home residents for respiratory symptoms, shortness of breath, fever, sore throat and flu-like symptoms. We will continue to fight COVID-19 with all of our being.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Health conducted an on-site assessment on March 31 and validated infection prevention and control measures that had been implemented.

MHS President Karen Lehman said on April 6 she was not aware of any MHS member that had reached a “crisis point” due to quarantine requirements, and that each MHS senior living community was complying with infection-control standards.

“They have been complying with these standards from the beginning when they were first issued,” she said. “But as we know, the virus was spreading for some weeks and has been finding it’s way from person to person transmission as it is for the rest of the population.

“It’s just much harder to contain it when once you have a number of your residents and staff exposed unknowingly. Each of the organizations are working directly with their health department on the positive case identification and reporting.”

With restrictions on visitation, chaplain services can be a challenge. Landis Communities director of pastoral services Donna Mack Shenk said she and her team were working to be conscious of the spiritual well-being of both residents and staff members.

“We aim to be a nonanxious presence for residents and team members,” she said. “In addition to providing devotions and a Sunday service via our TV channel, we are providing one-to-one and group support for team members.”


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