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Hilo nursing home says it is clear of active COVID cases

The Life Care Center of Hilo said as of today, there are no more active cases of COVID-19 at its facility.

The 252-bed nursing home recently suffered from an outbreak that was reported to the Hawaii Department of Health in early April, with 93 cases, including 76 residents and 17 staff.

One resident who tested positive for COVID-19 died after being transferred to the hospital.

Over the past week, no new cases had been identified at the center, according to DOH, which provided assistance.

“We have encouraged our associates and residents to be vaccinated, and we have seen noticeable results,” said Kirsten Huertas, executive director of the center, in a written statement. “Most of the COVID-19 cases our facility has dealt with in recent months have been asymptomatic, and most of those with symptoms who have been vaccinated have recovered quickly.”

She said the center continues to follow guidance from DOH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services regarding COVID-19.

“We will also continue to monitor all our residents and associates for signs and symptoms, as well as practicing appropriate masking, social distancing, and hand hygiene,” she said. “We encourage those in our communities to do so as well to help reduce infection rates. Indoor visitation at the center is open, but we ask that all visitors exercise good hand hygiene. If you are feeling ill, please refrain from visiting and contact your health care provider, instead.”

“Our No. 1 priority has always been the well-being of our patients and staff, and we will continue to focus on that mission,” she continued. “We are grateful to the Hilo community for their support and for the countless acts of kindness community members extend to our associates and residents.”

Hawaii has experienced a recent uptick in nursing home resident cases — moving from 1.3 cases per 100 residents in February and March to 5.4 cases per 100 residents in April, according to the AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard.

This places Hawaii above the national average, and in the top ranking among U.S. states for nursing home resident cases, despite having one of the highest percentage of nursing home residents – 72.4% — that are up-to-date on COVID vaccinations.

For the four-week period ending April 23, about 38% of nursing homes in Hawaii had confirmed COVID cases, according to the dashboard, which is updated monthly.

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