14 Iowa nursing homes now in outbreak status, state says

By: - September 3, 2021 11:48 am

There are at least 14 Iowa nursing homes with COVID-19 outbreaks this week, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health. (Photo by Getty Images)

There are at least 14 Iowa nursing homes with COVID-19 outbreaks this week, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health, and the total number of infections associated with those outbreaks stands at 98.

Just three weeks ago, there were only two Iowa nursing homes in outbreak status.

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Although state officials do not provide separate counts for residents and staff, federal data on infections and vaccine acceptance in care facilities suggests that most of those currently infected are care facility workers, not residents.

IDPH’s reported number of outbreaks may not accurately reflect the true number of current, active outbreaks, as there appears to be an unexplained lag between the time a care facility reports an outbreak and the IDPH acknowledges it.

On Aug. 27, for example, the department publicly stated there were only eight active nursing home outbreaks in Iowa, but records released this week show there were at least seven other Iowa care facilities in outbreak status at that time. That means the agency failed to report almost half the active outbreaks, both on its website and in response to questions from the Iowa Capital Dispatch.

An IDPH spokesperson said Friday she would look into the discrepancies.

One possible explanation for them: For purposes of informing the public, the department only considers an outbreak to have occurred when there are three or more infections in a care facility. However, the department may use a different definition of an outbreak – such as one or more infections – when it publicly reports the duration of each outbreak after it crosses the three-infection threshold.

The department no longer reports on its website the names of the care facilities where outbreaks are active, nor does it report the number of infections associated with each outbreak. Instead, the website provides only the number of outbreaks statewide, and it updates that number only once each week.

The department does, however, disclose the names of the facilities, and their infection totals, in response to formal public records requests – although the process of disclosure can take several days, by which time the information may be outdated.

The latest data from the department shows that these 14 Iowa care facilities were in outbreak status, with three or more infections, as of Thursday morning:

Black Hawk County – Pinnacle Specialty Care, in outbreak status since Aug. 2, with five infections. Two previous outbreaks at the home resulted in a total of 80 infections.

Cerro Gordo County – Iowa Order of Odd Fellows Home, in outbreak status since Aug. 13, with four infections. A previous outbreak at the home resulted in eight infections

Clay County – Longhouse-Northshire Ltd., in outbreak status since Aug. 24, with three infections. This outbreak was not among those publicly reported last week.

Hardin County – Hubbard Care Center, in outbreak status since July 27, with six infections. A previous outbreak at the home resulted in 58 infections.

Fayette County – Maple Crest Manor, in outbreak status since Aug. 16, with 11 infections.

Jasper County – Newton Health Care Center, in outbreak status since Aug. 17, with three infections. This outbreak was not among those publicly reported last week. A previous outbreak at the home resulted in 61 infections.

Mahaska County – Crystal Heights Care Center, in outbreak status since Aug. 20, with eight infections. This outbreak was not among those publicly reported last week. A previous outbreak at the home resulted in 75 infections.

Marion County – West Ridge Specialty Care, in outbreak status since Aug. 6, with 15 infections. Two previous outbreaks at the home resulted in a total of 76 infections.

Marshall County – Iowa Veterans Home, in outbreak status since Aug. 20, with four infections. Five previous outbreaks at the home resulted in 146 infections.

Page County – Accura Healthcare of Shenandoah, in outbreak status since Aug. 24, with five infections. This outbreak was not among those publicly reported last week.

Page County – Goldenrod Manor, in outbreak status since Aug. 23, with 10 infections. This outbreak was not among those publicly reported last week.

Plymouth County – Kingsley Specialty Care, in outbreak status since Aug. 13, with 11 infections. A previous outbreak at the home resulted in 15 infections.

Scott County – Kahl Home for the Aged, in outbreak status since Aug. 19, with seven infections. This outbreak was not among those publicly reported last week. Two previous outbreaks at the home resulted in 31 infections.

Scott County – Riverview Manor Healthcare, in outbreak status since Aug. 19, with six infections. A previous outbreak at the home resulted in 59 infections.

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.

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