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Care facilities at center of virus crisis

What is happening at nursing homes across our region is extremely heartbreaking. Since the pandemic began, our most vulnerable for contracting COVID-19 are those whose health has been compromised or the senior population.

Sadly, recent numbers are proving that once the virus enters a nursing or adult care facility, it only begins to percolate. As of last week, there had been more than 30 deaths and about 200 total cases in Warren County’s facilities. Within the last three weeks, the Chautauqua Nursing & Rehabilitation Center that is located in Chautauqua County, has reported 12 deaths and 40 cases involving patients with another 34 affecting the staff.

“The residents in our care are like family to us, and each loss is devastating to our team,” said Dawn Harsch, a spokeswoman for the care center in Dunkirk.

Closer to home, the pain is just as evident. Warren Manor was reporting close to 100 cases since March. Kinzua Healthcare & Rehabilitation noted five cases for residents and two for caregivers.

One of the worst to be affected has been the Rouse Home. During the major virus spike in this county since November, the facility has seen census levels fall from 145 to below 100.

This health crisis, from March to October, did little damage to this county and its residents.

Many of us watched and read about the turmoil from the virus in the big cities and along the east and west coasts of our nation.

Somehow, it may have given us all some overconfidence. It was not evident here. We appeared to have dodged the virus.

Devastation, however, has arrived.

While the recent numbers are alarming, there is reason for hope in one word: vaccine. Many of those in these facilities are receiving treatment that can bring us all a bit closer back to the lives we had one year ago at this time.

“The COVID-19 vaccine will be administered by CVS to residents, patients, and caregivers who choose to receive it,” according to a release from Guardian Healthcare, which oversees the Kinzua site. “The start of COVID-19 vaccination clinics has given both residents and caregivers a renewed hope for the future and they are excited to begin receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.”

Our hope also is that all these facilities are doing their best to communicate to family members. That is not an easy task based on the combined numbers of patients and the family connections.

This pandemic and its impact on care facilities is an absolute nightmare. Keep all those affected — at these locations and around the globe — in your prayers.

John D’Agostino is the regional editor of the Times Observer, The Post-Journal and OBSERVER in Dunkirk, N.Y. Send comments to jdagostino@observertoday.com or call (716) 487-1111, ext. 253.

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