On March 11 two of the 140 residents of the Edward C. Allworth Oregon Veterans’ Home in Lebanon tested positive for COVID19. By April 1, 15 residents and three caregivers tested positive for the virus.
Most of the home’s residents are over 70, with underlying health conditions. About a third of them are over 90.
Symptoms first appeared in residents in early March. Some of the veterans in Bravo 2, one of the home’s 11 14-bed units, were visibly sick by March 5. Staff wore masks and gloves as a precaution against disease, but, since COVID19 had not been confirmed, they did not wear full protective gear. Katrina Vink, one of two workers who would become infected, said “For quite a while we were just being coughed all over.”
By March 11, when the first two patients at the home were diagnosed with COVID19, Vink and fellow caregiver Rosemary Hilton displayed symptoms of the virus. On March 12, along with a “slew” of staff from the home, the two women went to the Samaritan Urgent Care clinic for testing. Because they had only mild symptoms – even though they reported direct contact with the two men with the virus – they were denied testing. No other workers from the home were tested.
Vink and Hilton continued to work at the home. By this time anyone working directly with patients in Bravo 2 was required to wear full protective gear, and not permitted to enter other units in the nursing home. By the end of her March 17 shift Vink had a fever.
The Samaritan Urgent Care clinic finally agreed to test her and Hilton on March 17. On March 19 they got the call informing them they tested positive for COVID19.
All residents of the home were not tested until March 22, the day the first resident of the home became the fifth Oregonian to succumb to COVID19. By that time 14 residents were already infected.
In desperation, after one resident died, medical director Dr. Rob Richardson began treating the patients with hydroxychloroquine and Z-Pak. Patients began to recover. The outbreak was pronounced “under control” March 24.
On March 31, 95 year old WWII veteran Bill Kelly was recovered. During his illness Kelly said “I survived the foxholes of Guam, I can get through this [coronavirus] bull—.” William “Bill” Lapschies, one of the first two patients to test positive for the virus, celebrated both his 104th birthday and his recovery from COVID19 April 1.
As of April 8, 19 residents and workers at the home were infected, 13 have recovered, 3 are still sick, and three have died.