Press Club

National Guard Conducts Mass Testing at Local Senior Care Facility

A contingent of National Guard members, some in camo and others in full protective gear, descended on the Sunrise at Ballston Park senior living center today for mass testing of staff and residents.

The coronavirus testing comes amid a worsening outbreak at the facility, located at 5910 Wilson Blvd. While Sunrise had for weeks avoided the kind of large outbreak that has sickened dozens at Regency Care of Arlington in Pentagon City and Brookdale Senior Living in Virginia Square — and possibly others — on Tuesday the facility’s executive director informed families that it had just confirmed the first cases among residents.

“We unfortunately need to report that we currently have three (3) residents who have tested positive for COVID-19,” Sunrise said in an email, obtained by ARLnow. “We continue to serve residents in our community and are working closely with impacted families to support them during this challenging time.”

“We now have had a total of four (4) team members who have tested positive for this virus, 2 more than from our last update,” the email added. “We continue to have ample staff to appropriately serve our residents and are following CDC guidelines to determine when a team member is free to return to work following any exposure, symptoms or diagnosis.”

Sunrise said in the email that it was participating in a state program to test everybody, all at once, at nursing homes and senior living centers that request it.

“We are pleased to confirm that we will be participating in the State of Virginia’s Point Prevalence Survey this Thursday, May 21,” the company told family members. “Virginia’s National Guard will administer COVID-19 testing for all residents and team members… The results are expected back in approximately 72 hours and we will be reaching out to any families where a COVID positive outcome is the result.”

The Point Prevalence Survey (PPS) program was announced by Virginia officials last month as an early intervention tool for slowing outbreaks that spread quickly at long-term care facilities. PPS testing has been conducted in at least one other such facility in Northern Virginia, as reported by NBC 4. A county spokeswoman declined to say whether other facilities in Arlington have received the wide-scale testing.

“The Commonwealth receives and approves the requests for point prevalence surveys at facilities,” said Cara O’Donnell. “Arlington Public Health has encouraged all facilities to conduct point prevalence surveys, and submits the requests from the facilities to the state. We cannot provide information on which facilities have requested this due to health privacy laws.”

As of this morning, the Virginia Dept. of Health reported 14 known COVID-19 outbreaks in Arlington, including nine in long-term care facilities and three in healthcare settings. The county has 1,763 known cases, 346 hospitalizations, and 89 coronavirus-related deaths, according to the latest VDH data.

Nearly half of the 89 deaths were among those ages 80 and above.

Long-term care facilities have been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic. Sunrise declined to provide information on whether there are any COVID-19 cases at its other facility, on N. Glebe Road, but did confirm that the company requested today’s testing in Bluemont.

“We can confirm that we requested the Point Prevalence Survey and that it is taking place today,” said Nicole Vasile, a spokeswoman for the McLean-based company. “We are working closely with the Virginia Department of Health and defer to health officials to share what they deem necessary given the rapidly evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In Tuesday’s letter to families, Sunrise said it was doing what it could to prevent the spread of the virus and protect residents.

As you may be aware, we are limited in our ability to share with you the health information of others.  We will continue to share with you, timely and accurately, information about your loved ones. This remains a fluid situation, and we will do our best to continue to provide regular community updates.  Our team is always available for your questions and feedback.

Additionally, all of our infection control protocols continue. We have sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) at this time, and all our existing screening protocols and health assessments continue to identify any potential symptoms for COVID-19.  We are carefully monitoring our team member assignments to facilitate consistency and minimize crossover between buildings/neighborhoods. As of this week, we will have had Serv Pro deep clean all three buildings on campus.

Lastly, our teams are reinforcing all measures such as effective hand hygiene and ensuring thorough cleaning of the community.

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