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Brendan House sees an outbreak of coronavirus cases

Daily Inter Lake | November 11, 2020 7:00 AM

Kalispell Regional Healthcare’s Brendan House is experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19 that has infected 40 residents to date, ending the long-term nursing facility’s nearly eight-month streak of having no positive cases among residents.

According to Kalispell Regional Healthcare spokesperson Mellody Sharpton, regular surveillance testing of staff and residents revealed that four residents tested positive for the virus last week. The residents were isolated from others and those who might have had contact with any positive residents were tested and closely monitored.

Sharpton said officials with the Kalispell-based facility learned late Friday evening several more had tested positive and after additional testing over the weekend, the number increased again.

As of Monday afternoon, four of the 40 residents have been admitted to Kalispell Regional Medical Center and the other residents remain isolated in Brendan House and are being closely monitored and receiving appropriate care. Sharpton said Brendan House staff also have been in “close communication” with residents’ families on the situation.

“While our team has worked diligently to protect our most vulnerable, with no COVID positive Brendan House residents since we closed our doors to outside visitors in March, we unfortunately could not escape the surge of COVID-19 in the Flathead that continues to impact our community,” Sharpton said via email.

Sharpton said the virus made it into the facility despite extensive surveillance and testing efforts. She said the facility even recently ramped up testing capabilities with an in-house molecular laboratory and had been conducting regular surveillance testing of Brendan House staff and residents for the past 10 weeks as cases in the Flathead have risen.

The facility has had about one dozen preventive practices in effect since March 13 when the Brendan House closed to non-essential visitation, as did most other long-term care facilities in the state. Those practices include screening of all employees and essential visitors daily before entering the facility, training for employees and visitors on how to safely don and doff personal protective equipment and social distancing within the facility.

“The health, safety, and well-being of our Brendan House residents and staff continues to be our highest priority. Brendan House will continue to follow all CDC recommendations for infection prevention,” Sharpton said. “We have implemented heighted isolation precautions in addition to our existing efforts of employee screening, visitor restrictions, hand hygiene, and additional PPE. In addition, we have added additional ventilation and brought in additional resources to assist with care, staffing, and other daily tasks.”

According to Kalispell Regional Healthcare’s website, Brendan House has 110 beds available and offers skilled nursing for transitional care, long-term care and comfort care. There are currently 72 residents at the facility.