17848 DOH Testing Lab

Pennsylvania Commonwealth microbiologist Kerry Pollard performs a manual extraction of the coronavirus inside the extraction lab at the Pennsylvania Department of Health Bureau of Laboratories on Friday, March 6, 2020.

Thirty-six residents of Lancaster County nursing homes or similar facilities died of COVID-19 since Tuesday, raising the death toll for those facilities to 223, according to the coroner's office.

Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania National Guard said it assessed a Lancaster County nursing home with the state Department of Health “by request of the facility,” but it declined to identify which one.

“The assessment found that their regular staffing was far above the state minimum, and although they've had some staff call off, they were still maintaining a superior standard of care,” guard spokesman Lt. Col. Keith Hickox wrote in an email, reporting no other work with homes here.

Hickox did not name the facility, saying the guard doesn't do so "unless the facility itself discloses our involvement with them."

As of Monday afternoon, residents of senior care facilities represented 93% of the 240 total deaths here attributed to the virus.

Most of the deaths were at the facilities, but 46 occurred after the residents were taken to a hospital. The coroner's office also disclosed, for the first time, how many of each home's deaths happened at a hospital.

Biggest increases

Full numbers for all 18 facilities that have had deaths so far are here.

The biggest increase since Tuesday was at Luther Acres in Lititz, which reported nine more deaths for a total of 27 deaths in its 106-bed health care center so far.

The second-highest increase was at Conestoga View in Lancaster Township, which has the most deaths overall. It rose from 56 to 61.

Luther Acres executive director Craig Shelly wrote in an email that the home is “working tirelessly to mitigate the spread of this virus” and it appears the rate of infection has slowed.

“The vast majority of residents and their families understood the severity of COVID-19 infection and selected only palliative comfort measures to be provided in the long-term care setting,” he said, reporting that the medical team reviews care plans and discusses implications of COVID-19 on diagnosis of the virus.

Residents “have received aggressive interventions for comfort, including oxygen, positioning, and medications for pain or respiratory discomfort,” he wrote, saying more recently some “have chosen limited medical interventions and the medical team has started IV fluids when the resident could not take in adequate fluids.”

Shelly wrote that the home's leaders continue regular communication with the state Department of Health and its infection control consultant, ECRI.

Smaller increases

The coroner's report showed two homes had their first COVID-19 deaths; seven homes had an additional one to four deaths since Tuesday; and seven homes had no additional deaths in that time.

The two new homes, which had two deaths each, are Rose City Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Lancaster city and Elizabethtown Healthcare & Rehabilitation in West Donegal Township.

The other homes with additional deaths, according to the coroner's office, were:

  • Homestead Village, which rose from 10 deaths to 14;
  • Mt. Hope Nazarene Retirement Community, from five deaths to eight;
  • Lancashire Hall, from 16 deaths to 18;
  • Mennonite Home Communities, from 16 deaths to 17;
  • Brethren Village, from six deaths to seven;
  • and Pleasant View Communities, from three deaths to four.

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