Nursing homes in the ‘yellow zone’ now required to ramp up testing


(WSYR-TV) — The New York State Department of Health has released new guidance as part of its “Cluster Action Initiative” requiring homes to double up on COVID-19 testing.

Since parts of Onondaga County are now in the yellow zone, all nursing homes in that zone will have to test its personnel twice a week. Right now, that impacts at least five facilities at these locations:

  • Loretto Health & Rehabilitation — 700 East Brighton Ave. in Syracuse
  • Elderwood at Liverpool — 4800 Bear Rd. in Liverpool
  • The Centers at St. Camillus — 813 Fay Rd. in Syracuse
  • Central Park Rehabilitation and Nursing Center — 116 Martin Luther King E. in Syracuse
  • Bishop Rehabilitation and Nursing Center — 918 James St. in Syracuse

At the height of the pandemic, all nursing homes in the state had this testing requirement. That was lifted this past summer and since then, they have been testing once a week.

If a worker tests positive but is asymptomatic, and they’re being tested once a week, there is that window. where, they can be shedding the virus.

Chuck Hayes — Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Elderwood

Those at Elderwood at Liverpool have until next week to ramp up testing. In total, it will cost them an extra $31,500 per week. To pay for that, they will have to rearrange their spending.

“For us and for nursing home operators all across the country, the costs associated with the pandemic, are real,” Hayes said.

The Loretto Health & Rehabilitation Center has the same financial issue. They’ll be spending an extra $80,000 per week to test twice a week, with their own staff administering the tests.

It probably involves at least 15 members of our staff every test day and it’s a lot but it’s important to do and we’re supportive of it.

Julie Sheedy — Chief Marketing and Engagement Officer for Loretto

Both representatives of the facilities admit, testing has been saving lives, which is something they didn’t have the access to back in March.

Now, they know more about the virus, how to screen and isolate visitors and residents, plus keep up with infection control measures.

“All of those pieces are in place and I think it’s going to be a much safer fall and winter for us,” Sheedy said.

Though the testing is going to be a financial burden, they say it’s worth it.

“Our sole purpose for existing is to provide comfort, provide care, provide safety,” said Hayes. “So if testing twice a week is what we need to do, that’s what we’re going to do for them.”

Nursing homes in yellow, orange or red zones that don’t follow the testing mandate will be subject to a $2,000 fine per violation, per day. If they do it again? That fine increases to $10,000.

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