This story has been updated.
The long-term care facility at South Peninsula Hospital in Homer is requesting no visitors after a resident and multiple staff members tested positive for COVID-19, according to a press release from SPH.
Rachael Kincaid, the long-term care director of the skilled nursing facility at SPH, said in the press release that the resident who tested positive Friday is the first resident to test positive since the pandemic began.
All of the residents at the facility are vaccinated, the release stated.
“Our protocols and mitigation measures have been working quite effectively,” she said. “This facility is our residents’ home, and we’re a tight-knit group. Most of our elders are unable to mask. When you consider the intimate care we provide day after day, it’s pretty remarkable we’ve made it this long without a resident case.”
According to the release, the resident who tested positive was isolated to a private room. After everyone else in the facility underwent testing, six staff members tested positive. No other long-term residents tested positive for COVID. The positive results among the staff occurred in both vaccinated and unvaccinated employees.
Staff who tested negative are working overtime as needed, the release stated.
Kincaid said in the release that safety measures were changed last year to allow visitors and outdoor outings for the residents.
“While we are committed to keeping our residents safe from physical risk, social, emotional and mental wellbeing are an important part of their overall health,” she said. “This pandemic does not appear to be going anywhere, and we must adjust along with it.”
The south peninsula’s seven-day average was 393 new COVID cases per 100,000 people as of Friday, according to data from the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District website.
Because many omicron cases have reportedly been less symptomatic and because of the increasing availability of at-home COVID test kits, state officials with the Department of Health and Social Services are encouraging people to use hospitalizations and death metrics to determine the severity of the variant.
Hospitalizations in Alaska are currently trending downward, although the metric tends to be a lagging indicator.
The long-term skilled nursing facility at SPH, starting Saturday, will not allow visitation for seven days. Additionally, all residents and staff will be tested daily despite vaccination status.
Clarification: South Peninsula Hospital spokesperson Derotha Ferraro clarified on Jan. 10 that the long-term care facility “requests no visitors at this time.”
Reach reporter Camille Botello at firstname.lastname@example.org.