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Four local care facilities COVID-19-free

  • Quabbin Valley Healthcare at 821 Daniel Shays Highway in Athol. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Managing owner Scott Wheeler stands outside of Quabbin Valley Healthcare in Athol. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 5/19/2020 3:41:38 PM
Modified: 5/19/2020 3:41:32 PM

At least four care facilities across the region have had no positive COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began.

Farren Care Center in Montague City, LaBelle Rest Home in Shelburne Falls, The Arbors at Greenfield and Quabbin Valley Health Care in Athol all reported this week that their residents and staffs have all tested negative for the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, sparing those facilities and the people that live or work in them.

“All of our residents have been tested and come back negative,” Farren spokesperson Christine Looby said. “Half of our staff has been tested and we’re in the process of finishing those tests. We don’t expect any positives.”

Looby said a lot of Farren’s success started with closing the facility to visitors March 14. She said Farren adopted temperature checks of everyone who entered the building from that point, along with daily temperature-taking of all residents, and that continues.

“We closed common areas and made sure people were not in close contact,” she said. “Less exposure was and still is important.”

Looby said the 120-bed facility currently has 103 residents and 150 staff. She said everyone is committed to social distancing and staff takes responsibility, when they’re not working, to keep their own families and selves, along with Farren residents, safe.

“No one wants to bring this into the facility,” she said.

She said to the best of Farren Care’s knowledge, it does not have any clinical staff working in other skilled nursing or behavioral health facilities. She said that question is asked of each staff member every day when they report for shift as a part of the screening. She said physicians and counselors who are at the facility are conducting their other work through Telehealth.

Farren, owned by Trinity Health Senior Communities, takes care of adults with both medical and psychiatric illnesses or behavioral disorders. The facility combines skilled nursing and long-term rehabilitation with mental health care, meeting physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of its patients.

Unlike Charlene Manor Extended Care, which has had eight deaths to date, Poet’s Seat Health Care Center, which reported 14 deaths in early May, and Buckley Healthcare Center, which has had 15 deaths, these four facilities’ spokespeople have said they feel very fortunate and will continue their diligence.

Quabbin ValleyHealth Care

Quabbin Valley Health Care took early measures to combat COVID-19 and it paid off, Assistant Administrator Michael Kachadoorian said of the skilled-nursing facility on Daniel Shays Highway.

He said the facility closed to unnecessary visitations March 11, because he and the owner “saw what COVID-19 was doing in other parts of the world and the United States.”

“We banded together and decided it would only be necessary visitors, like physicians, nurses and people visiting loved ones for end-of-life,” Kachadoorian said. “We’ve took steps right along to keep our residents and staff safe, and we tightened them every time we needed to or were directed by the state to do so.”

Kachadoorian said the facility finished most of its testing this week and has complied with all state regulations and kept up its own protocol like wearing masks and social distancing.

“Our staff has been extremely diligent,” he said. “They’ve been amazing and we’re very proud of the job we’ve done.”

He said from the beginning, no one was allowed in the building until their temperature is taken and deliveries are left outside the door. There is one way in and out of the building. He said residents continue to visit with loved ones either through windows or virtually.

All four facilities said their staff have the personal protective gear they need and use it, as necessary, when taking care of their residents.

“It’s all about our residents’ safety,” Kachadoorian and others said.

LaBelle Rest Home

Carole Musante, acting administrator at LaBelle’s Rest Home on High Street in Shelburne Falls, said everyone, staff and residents, have been tested by the National Guard.

“We’ve kept strong with our policies,” Musante said. “Everyone has voluntarily been staying inside, though we did have to let one resident go because he wouldn’t follow certain rules.”

She said staff and residents are asked to wear masks, stay on the property, not gather in groups and practice social distancing with each other.

“No one is walking to the stores,” she said. “We started this very early.”

Musante said the facility started taking precautions in early March, restricting visitors and asking staff to follow protocol, like self-quarantine, if they didn’t feel well.

She said the current 14 residents have online visits with friends and family, as well as online discussion with psychologists and doctors as much as possible.

Musante said people who have “mixed diagnoses” live at LaBelle’s. She said it is for people with mental and physical health issues who can live independently, but need some help. The age range of people accepted there is 20 to people into their 90s.

The Arbors at Greenfield

Jason Robertson, president of Magnolia Management Co. in East Longmeadow, manager of the assisted-living facility, said all staff and residents have been tested and there are no positive cases.

“We took steps very early on,” Robertson said. “We’ve been very lucky. We’re going to continue what we’re doing. Our employees have been great, residents have been so cooperative and their families have been so understanding. That helps a lot.”

Robertson said the facility will continue its strategies, like no visitors, until it is clear that residents will be safe.

He said The Arbors at Greenfield is full at 76 residents. He said the current number is in the “high 60s.” He said there are about 45 full- and part-time employees.

Robertson said all resident’s and staff member’s temperatures are taken regularly, and all employees work only at The Arbors, no other facilities.

“We also stopped activities early on and people don’t gather in common areas,” he said.

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-9591 or afritz@recorder.com.

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