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Two positive cases now for COVID-19

SHARON — The first case of COVID-19 was detected in the Northwest Corner, in the town of Sharon. Sharon Health Care Center reported Sunday, March 22, that a 57-year-old woman in a long-term care unit at the center tested positive for COVID-19.

On Monday, March 23, Erica Joncyk, director at the David M. Hunt Library in Falls Village, announced on social media that “a member of our library community has tested positive with COVID-19.”

The library staff will self-quarantine for the recommended 14 days, Joncyk said.

The library had been offering curbside pickup on Tuesdays and Saturdays, but that will stop for two weeks as well. No details were available on that patient; however, the state list of positive cases shows no cases in Falls Village but one new case in Salisbury.

As for the Sharon Health Care patient who tested positive, she is now in a private room and her former roommate “has also been placed in a private room and is being monitored as well, with added precautions in place,” said Tim Brown, director of Marketing & Communications for Athena Health Care Systems, which owns Sharon Health Care Center.

The patient is not in acute distress and does not at this point need to be transferred to a hospital, Brown said.

“She is resting comfortably under the care of our staff and resides in our building still,” he said.

It is not known yet how she became infected with COVID-19.

“That’s the biggest question,” Brown said.  “We are working with the state Department of Public Health and their division of licensure and their epidemiologists to map out the patient that tested positive, as well as everyone in the building, every vendor, every visitor, every staff member.”

Athena Health Care Systems has “54 nursing homes, assisted livings, home health and hospice agencies in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island,” Brown said.

In Connecticut, Athena has 23 nursing homes,including Sharon Health Care Center as well as Evergreen Health Care Center in Stafford Springs, Conn.

The first nursing home resident in the state to test positive for COVID-19 was at Evergreen and the second nursing home patient in the state to die from  COVID-19 was “affiliated with Evergreen,” Brown said.

Those two male patients were in short-term care. Subsequently, a number of people at Evergreen have tested positive.

Brown said that the Sharon and Stafford Springs facilities are distant from each other and do not share staff, so it’s extremely unlikely that anyone from Evergreen brought the infection to Sharon.

As of Monday afternoon, no one else at Sharon Health Care had shown symptoms and therefore no new tests have been administered.

“Based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Department of Public Health guidance, no other residents and staff have been tested, at this point,” Brown said.

To help stop the spread of the virus internally, “We are undertaking a deep cleaning of the entire building,” he added.

New procedures are also in place to protect staff, he said.

“We are now taking temps halfway through their shifts and reviewing and documenting their oxygen saturation, per new recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

He reassured the Northwest Corner community that all of the health care center’s 131 employees are being extensively coached, and have been for several weeks, about how to protect themselves from becoming virus patients or carriers. This includes wearing  Personal Protective Equipment — which Brown says Sharon Health Care is adequately supplied with at this point.

Sharon Health Care Center is a senior living facility that is across the street from Sharon Hospital but otherwise not associated with it.

The center has 88 beds for patients in long-term care,  short-term care and dementia care.

The center’s administrator is Sawyer Thornton, 29, a Sharon native, who had been the center’s recreation director until she was promoted last July.

She replaced John Horstman, who had come to Sharon after retiring from Geer Village in North Canaan, where he had been the administrator for many years.

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