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No decision yet on possible COVID-19 positive facility in Sharon

On Thursday afternoon, April 2, nursing homes across Connecticut were still negotiating with the state government about plans to segregate nursing home residents into COVID-19 positive-only and negative-only facilities. 

One of the facilities being considered as a COVID-19 positive facility is Sharon Health Care Center, an 88-bed nursing home that is owned by Athena Health Care Systems and is across the street from the 78-bed Sharon Hospital (with which it has no affiliation). 

Sharon Health Care was the first nursing home in the Northwest Corner to have a COVID-19 positive resident. The woman, in her mid 50s, was put into a separate room, as was her roommate; she was not considered sufficiently ill to be hospitalized.

At present, neither of the other two facilities in the Northwest Corner has any residents who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Tim Brown, spokesman for Athena Health, had contacted The Lakeville Journal on Wednesday night, April 1, to talk about the plans. By Thursday morning, negotiations had begun and Brown said things were in flux and he would offer an update as soon as information is available.

Sharon First Selectman Brent Colley is sharing information as it becomes available by email; to be included on the contact list, send an email request to brent_c@sharon-ct.org.

Kevin O’Connell at Geer in North Canaan sent a similar message on Thursday.

Bill Pond, administrator at Noble Horizons in Salisbury, said Thursday that Gov. Ned Lamont’s executive order concerning nursing homes will not have an effect on the facility.

“Not at this point,” he added.

Noble Horizons has 91 beds in its skilled nursing units, with 80 of those beds in use as of April 2.

There are also 14  apartments for residents in the Cobble unit, and 50 cottages for independent living.

So far the entire facility and campus are free of COVID-19, Pond said.

The facility is closed to the general public, and no visitors are allowed for the time being. Visitors are allowed at the cottages, and those residents can come and go, subject to the same guidelines as all state residents.

Vendors are directed to a designated drop-off site and anything coming in is disinfected.

Residents and staff all have their vital signs monitored regularly.

The facility has made video conferencing available for family visits and medical consultations. 

And “we are providing as many activities as we can internally” to help stave off boredom, Pond said.

Pond also said he is participating in at least three conference calls a day with public health officials and his counterparts at other facilities.

Noble Horizons’ main source of referrals is Sharon Hospital, and the prospective patients are subjected to heightened screening.

“We’re reinventing what we do,” Pond said. “We don’t have much choice.”

In the discussion about the possible creation of segregated facilities for COVID-positive patients, it has been mentioned that nursing homes that have been closed could be opened again if needed. So far, The Kent nursing home is not being discussed. The Kent closed in 2015; it has been approved for use as a alcohol and drug rehabilitation facility for adults. 

This is a developing story;we will update it as information becomes available. 

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