Alexandria senior living facility reports 12 cases of COVID-19

Alexandria senior living facility reports 12 cases of COVID-19
Hermitage Northern Virginia is located at 5000 Fairbanks Ave. (Photo/Hermitage Northern Virginia)

By Missy Schrott |

Hermitage Northern Virginia, a long-term care facility located at 5000 Fairbanks Ave., has reported 12 positive cases of COVID-19.

Two residents are hospitalized, while the rest are quarantined at Hermitage. Eleven of the positive cases are residents who were based in Hermitage’s healthcare center. The final case is the spouse of one of the healthcare residents who tested positive. The spouse lives and is quarantining in Hermitage’s assisted living quarters. There have been no fatalities to date.

The first positive case at the senior living facility was confirmed on April 8. When another resident tested positive shortly after, Hermitage elected to test all 24 residents living in the facility’s healthcare center.

“We reached out to Alexandria Health [Department], who by the way has been great to work with,” Chris Henderson, chief executive officer of Pinnacle Living, the company that manages Hermitage Northern Virginia, said. “So we asked if they would be willing to provide test kits so that we could test all of our residents [in the healthcare center] and they came through and did exactly that.”

Hermitage staff received the results for the additional positive cases in the healthcare center earlier this week. Thirteen of the tests came back negative.

Besides the two residents who are hospitalized and the one resident who is quarantining in assisted living, the nine remaining residents are isolated together in the healthcare center, with a dedicated team taking care of them, Henderson said. Only the residents who are hospitalized are considered “severe” cases, Henderson said. The others are either mild or asymptomatic.

When asked whether Hermitage is considering testing all of its 125 residents, not just those based in the healthcare center, Henderson said there were not enough test kits available. However, at Gov. Ralph Northam’s 2 p.m. press conference today, the governor reported that the state would help provide more testing at long-term care facilities experiencing outbreaks.

“We will work to make sure that any nursing home or long-term care facility experiencing a breakout can test every resident in the facility, as well as the staff,” Northam said. “I’m grateful to UVA and VCU for partnering with us to do these tests for facilities, as resources allow. The state lab will also help provide testing supplies.”

As Hermitage staff take care of the infected residents, a major challenge they’re facing is personal protective equipment. While they were recently able to acquire about 1,000 N95 masks from another Pinnacle Living facility in Richmond, they are now short on protective gowns, Henderson said.

Hermitage has been very forthcoming with information about the outbreak, posting notices on its website, in news releases and in emails to residents, families and staff. While facilities like Hermitage are not required to publicly report outbreaks, they are doing so out of transparency, Henderson said.

“Everyone knows what’s going on,” Henderson said. “We are not required to do this at all. We feel as an organization and as a community we’re all in this together. And people need to be aware of what’s happening.”

No residents have elected to move out of the facility. 

According to the Virginia Department of Health, there are two long-term care facilities in Alexandria experiencing outbreaks of COVID-19. It is unclear which other facility has experienced positive cases.

(Read more: Protecting Alexandria seniors during the COVID-19 outbreak)