Nursing home cases almost half of Osage positives

Robert Smith

As of Monday morning, April 20, about half of all positive tests for COVID-19 from Osage County, and three-quarters of the deaths, were long-term care or nursing home associated cases, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

Monday morning, Osage County had 65 positive test results for the illness caused by the new coronavirus, and eight deaths. Of those, 32 positive test results and six deaths were associated in one way or another with long-term care facilities or nursing homes, according to OSDH documentation.

Kelli Rader, the regional health department administrator who supervises the Osage County Health Department, acknowledged that residents of nursing homes have proven vulnerable during the pandemic.

“That population is very much at-risk,” Rader said. She added that OSDH has a team of nurses in each of the state’s public health districts that specifically serves nursing homes and long-term care units. She said the teams are made up of both nurses who specialize in health issues relating to long-term care facilities, and local nurses. These teams offer information and guidance, Rader said.

Statewide, as of midnight Sunday, the OSDH showed there had been 534 cases of COVID-19 that were nursing home or long-term care facility associated, including 48 deaths. The entire state, as of Monday morning, had received confirmation of 2,680 COVID-19 cases and 143 deaths.

State health department documentation also showed the Skiatook Nursing Home, located in Osage County, has been an apparent hot spot for COVID-19 cases. An OSDH document showed six deaths from COVID-19 attributed to the nursing home, as well as 23 positive tests among residents of the facility, and another 14 positive tests among staff memers. That’s a total of 37 COVID-19 cases, which is five more than the 32 nursing home or long-term care cases of the illness shown for Osage County on a separate document.

The Skiataook Nursing Home’s COVID-19 numbers also accounted for almost all publicly reported cases of the illness in that city. The Skiatook community straddles the county line between Osage and Tulsa counties. It is located along State Highway 20, about four miles west of Highway 75. There had been 38 cases of COVID-19 and seven deaths in Skiatook as a whole, according to OSDH.

Dan Yancey, city manager of Skiatook, said the nursing home is a private, state-regulated facility and the municipality has little to do with it other than to provide EMS services. Yancey said Skiatook’s EMS workers take COVID-19 precautions now with all patients they treat. Yancey said the city provided the nursing home with a cot on which to place possible COVID-19 patients and station them outside, where medical personnel could get to them easily.

“That way, we don’t go into the facility as an agent of the city,” Yancey said.

According to OSDH figures, there had been seven positives for COVID-19 from Hominy and six from Pawhuska through midnight Sunday. None of those patients had died. All of the Pawhuska patients had recovered, and six of the seven Hominy patients had recovered, according to the state.