Iowa City area nursing homes take precautions

As more cases of the novel coronavirus are confirmed in Johnson County, area nursing homes and retirement communities are taking extra precautions.


Ryan Adams

Melrose Meadows Retirement Community is seen on Wednesday, March 11, 2020.

Julia Shanahan, Politics Editor

Nursing homes and retirement facilities in the Iowa City area are taking preventative measures to protect patients and residents, amid 14 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in Johnson County.

Jason Bridie, director of marketing at Lantern Park Specialty Care nursing homes in Iowa, said that while they are not aware of any presumptive cases in any of their 44 facilities, they are taking preventative measures such as restricting visitations to immediate family members and allowing other visitations on a case-by-case basis.

The Centers for Medicaid Services has advised long-term care to limit nonessential visitors. The facilities are also stocking up on medical supplies such as masks, gowns, cleaning supplies, and other protective gear, Bridie said.

“It’s completely a preventative and a preparation mode for us,” Bridie said. “[We’re] heavily monitoring, keeping tabs on all of our residents, and making sure that we’re as prepared as we can be should we experience exposure or outbreak.”

There is one Lantern Park Specialty Care facility in Johnson County, located in Coralville.

Iowa public-health officials Thursday confirmed the state has 16 individuals who tested positive for the coronavirus, 14 of which reside in Johnson County. Fifteen of the cases in the state are tied to the same Egyptian cruise.

The two new cases are both individuals between the ages of 61 and 80. Older adults are at a greater risk for contracting COVID-19, according to the Center for Disease Control. The CDC also says that people with chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease are also at a greater risk.

Melrose Retirement Community Marketing Coordinator Meghan Adam said Monday that her facility, located in Iowa City, is not restricting visitations, but said the facility is stepping up diligence in terms of cleaning and maintenance.

“We are monitoring our residents as we usually would,” Adam said. “It is kind of cold and flu season still, so we’re always pretty diligent about that kind of thing. But, if anybody starts exhibiting symptoms that seem to correlate, then we would obviously advise them to go ahead and get tested.”

Legacy Dial Senior Living, a nursing home in Iowa City, displays on its website its “commitment to you during COVID-19.” It says that they are not allowing visitors who are experiencing cold and flu symptoms, which includes a fever greater than 100.4 degrees.

The website also advises all visitors and health-care professionals go directly to the resident’s room and to avoid common areas.

“Out of respect to our residents and team members, visitors with other symptoms including but not limited to a runny nose, shortness of breath, fatigue, chills, vomiting or diarrhea should postpone visits to a community,” Dial Senior Living advises on their website.

The Iowa Department of Public Health reminds Iowans on its website that people are at a greater risk for contracting influenza than the novel coronavirus. The CDC says face masks are not necessary for the general public, and advises people to wash their hands, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and to stay home when sick.

For more coverage of the coronavirus outbreak, click here.


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