News Feature

Deer Isle
Originally published in Castine Patriot, November 19, 2020 and Island Ad-Vantages, November 19, 2020 and The Weekly Packet, November 19, 2020
No COVID-19 outbreak at Island Nursing Home after staffer tests positive

by Leslie Landrigan

Editor’s Note 11/29/20: This article is based on information that was available at press time and is currently out of date. A new story will be coming on 11/30 to cover recent developments at the Island Nursing Home.

The Island Nursing Home’s staff and residents have all tested negative for COVID-19 after one staff member tested positive for the virus, Executive Director Matthew Trombley said in a phone interview on November 18.

The staff member, who had no symptoms, has quarantined, he said. “There are no positive or symptomatic individuals within the walls of the building,” Trombley said.

If one person gets COVID-19 in a nursing home, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends universal testing for everyone inside a unit because of the risk the disease poses to residents.

Trombley said the nursing home staff thought they had an isolated case on their hands, but tested all other staff and residents to be sure. By November 17, the nursing home got the all-clear with all staff and residents testing negative, Trombley said.

The nursing home also contacted Maine CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services Licensing Division. “We didn’t just meet, but exceeded all expectations before, during and after,” the incident, Trombley said. The Island Nursing Home told families of residents on Friday, November 13, that a staff member had tested positive for the coronavirus.

That staff member had taken a point-of-care test, Trombley said. But point-of-care tests can give false positives, and they all have to be verified and confirmed with a PCR (polymerise chain reaction) test, Trombley said. The staff member was tested a second time and came up negative and has been cleared by the CDC as a false positive, Trombley said.

The Island Nursing Home closed to visitors on March 10, and had begun screening them eight days earlier because of concerns about the pandemic. At that point, the facility hadn’t had a case of the flu in three years.

“Our team has worked exhaustively since February to ensure the safety of our residents and proved our processes and protocols by swiftly completing our notifications and testing within hours of receiving the information,” Trombley said.