The announcement of the first positive case for coronavirus in a care center for older adults revealed the concern that exists with this population and the need for increased testing of caregivers.
This is a 61-year-old who lives in a nursing home in Carolina. She has been hospitalized for five days after being transferred to the hospital with stomach pain and then tested positive for both coronaviruses. The Family Department reported that the person is under their guardianship.
In a press release, Family reported that this home has 60 residents who underwent the Covid-19 test yesterday, as well as the 38 employees of the center.
"As for the guidelines for the authorization of visits to the centers, they are ready and waiting for them to be discussed with health authorities for their implementation," said Orlando López Belmonte, secretary of the Family, in written statements.
The Health Department confirmed this case yesterday, but refused to identify the care center. Neither did he offer information on the state of the infected person.
"These are events that must be investigated"
The epidemiologist and adviser to the Health Department, Idania Rodríguez, reported that the patient it tested positive for a molecular test and that “today (yesterday) we are highlighting the team for doing molecular and serological tests, so that if there is another positive person, we can do prevention and mitigation.”
He cited reasons of confidentiality for not reporting the name of the care center where this elderly person lives.
“The center has the responsibility of notifying the relatives. It has to establish protocols to mitigate and the Department of Health has the responsibility to make the pertinent investigations and have the complete investigation to be able to give it without any doubt, "Rodríguez said, without specifying when they will report these details. “They are events that must be investigated. Right now we are doing an investigation, "he insisted. He did not specify how this person was infected and added that this is part of the research carried out at the center.
These centers – about 2,000 throughout the Island – prohibited family visits since mid-March, when the first call was decreed left over from the coronavirus. Since then, and even with the relaxation in other social and economic areas, the elderly care facilities have remained closed to the public.
The government's plan was for the National Guard, along with 330 centers and the Department of Health , will perform coronavirus tests on all residents and employees of these centers. However, and as recently published EL VOCERO the National Guard found a stumbling block: to carry out these tests, Health requires an authorization from the guardians of each of these residents or their GPs.
In addition, the test is voluntary, so both centers and residents – or their guardians – can refuse. As of yesterday, the National Guard reported that it has tested 7,422 residents and employees of nursing homes.
Juanita Aponte Morales, president of the Association of Long-Term Care Owners, said that the tests in these centers should be more frequent. He noted that in the United States, 40% of deaths from coronavirus have been reported in the homes of the elderly.
“We must seek measures and that the State obtain tests so that they are continually carried out. If you went to test today and three months passed, you have to do it again, ”he said. “You have to continuously test those who are at risk, who come and go. To employees, to service providers. This guarantees that no one who enters is ill … "
He acknowledged that after so many months, there are some households that have relaxed the rules a little to allow some type of contact between the elderly and their relatives.
“There are some who have been flexible because there is a need to be in contact with these relatives. This affects them a lot. It affects them psychologically. You see that they do not have as much appetite because that bond with the family is strong and it is necessary. But, on the other hand, it is a risk, "said Aponte.
" We see how there are people who are not behaving, we see the crowds that congregate in places, on beaches and social distancing is not respected and that is a danger, "he said.
Firm support for the protocol
Carmen Delia Sánchez, attorney for the Elderly, stated that it is notable that this is the first case in four months since that the virus was detected on the Island. He pointed out that it should be considered as a vote in favor of the protocol that limits the visit of family members to these centers.
"I know that they are rights that are violating the same patient and family members, but we are talking about safety and lives. I always agreed with the protocol and it is good that it has not been lifted. You have to see how many of these relatives were pachanguendo in Boquerón and this population is very vulnerable, "said the attorney.
He agreed that more tests of Covid-19 should be done in these centers, but recalled that there are not many available in the Island.
“I think we must continue to maintain physical distance. Those employees must be emphasized to take steps to protect our elders and their families. We have to be responsible in this. I regret that there has been a case, but I think we have been fortunate that a crisis did not break out in the homes as in other countries, that many elderly people have died, "said Sánchez.