Good Shepherd confirms first case of COVID-19

Nursing home resident tests positive 

By Natasha Barber

SAUK RAPIDS – Good Shepherd Community has one confirmed case of COVID-19 in its nursing home.
            The announcement, made shortly before noon April 29 via social media, confirms the first known case of COVID-19 in a Benton County congregate care setting. Benton County has 10 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday.
            “We truly are doing everything in our power and ability to keep this out of our building and stop the spread now that we do have a confirmed case with a resident in the facility,” Michael Stordahl said.
            Stordahl is the president and CEO of Good Shepherd Community. He confirmed the positive case is a nursing home resident; no other details can be provided in order to protect patient privacy.
            Stordahl said Good Shepherd is in contact with the Minnesota Department of Health and is following its preliminary protocol as it awaits assignment of an MDH case manager.
            “Our priority is the health and safety of our residents and staff, and we are doing everything we can to stop the spread of this virus within our campus,” the facility said in a press release. “We have enacted our COVID-19 emergency response plan with heightened infection control protocols. We are working in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure we are taking appropriate steps. Our staff and residents are following recommended preventative actions and quarantine protocols, we have prohibited visitors other than those providing essential health care services and extreme end of life compassionate situations, and will have no activities outside of resident rooms until the virus has been eradicated.”
            According to the release, upon notification of the confirmed positive case, Good Shepherd implemented a detailed action plan which includes key components such as:
            – Closing its building to all visitors for everyone’s safety. Good Shepherd encourages people to communicate with residents by phone or video chat, if possible, and the facility’s team is in communication with families on an ongoing basis.
            – Implementing enhanced infection control and disinfecting measures as per MDH and CDC.
            – Monitoring and screening residents for signs of illness.
            – Continuing to screen staff prior to beginning work. Staff are not allowed in the building if they are ill. Screening includes temperature taking and screening questions. Any staff who exhibit symptoms are instructed to self-quarantine at home, receive appropriate medical care and follow protocol for returning to work after their illness
            – Canceling all social activities outside of resident rooms, following quarantine advice from the CDC.
            “We immediately informed residents, families and staff,” the release said. “We will also provide regular updates to family members on news, emerging issues, or additional changes in the status of our operations via many communication channels. Public updates are provided via our Good Shepherd website and Facebook page.”
            Stordahl said the MDH is directing Good Shepherd staff as to its next steps regarding testing of residents and employees. He said his facility has been preparing for the onset of COVID-19 since the beginning of March and is following its action plan.
            The release thanked its staff who are, “working tirelessly to ensure a clean, safe environment for all who live and work here.”   
            Stordahl, additionally, said Good Shepherd is thankful for the community support they have received during the pandemic.
            “I’m just very grateful to the community for everything they have done to support us, and all the families in particular that have been there to give their words of encouragement and also many of them continue to try to find masks from different companies and sewing masks – just doing everything they can (for our team). That part of this has been nice to see. Despite everything going on, we definitely know we are not in this alone. There are a lot of people trying to help out.”
            As more information develops, Good Shepherd will continue to update the public as we have that information, Stordahl said.