2 more deaths, 20+ positive cases among residents reported at Walnut Ridge Nursing and Rehab Center

Updating issues on state COVID-19 map are focus, officials say

2 more deaths, 20+ positive cases among residents reported at Walnut Ridge Nursing and Rehab Center
On Friday, Region 8 News pressed the Arkansas Department of Health for precise numbers of COVID-19 cases at the Walnut Ridge Nursing and Rehab Center. (Source: KAIT-TV)

WALNUT RIDGE, Ark. (KAIT) - The Arkansas Healthcare Association confirmed Tuesday, April 28, 2 more deaths at Walnut Ridge Nursing and Rehab Center.

Executive Director of the Arkansas Health Care Association Rachel Bunch told Region 8 News, 48 total residents have tested positive for COVID-19.

That number doubled since the last time we reported on the Lawrence County health facility back April 17.

Bunch said 42 of those residents are still in the facility.

Meanwhile, 3 residents are now hospitalized and a total of 3 of them died.

21 staff members at the facility tested positive, however, they are not working and have been quarantined.

Bunch explained that these staff members are in different stages of their COVID-19 infection or recovery as that number includes those we reported on 2 weeks ago.

Reporting Issues

Back on April 17, Region 8 News pressed the Arkansas Department of Health for precise numbers of COVID-19 cases at the Walnut Ridge Nursing and Rehab Center.

We also reached out to administration at Walnut Ridge Nursing and Rehab Center to answer some questions. One administrator told us to reach out to the Arkansas Health Care Association.

Rachel Bunch, Executive Director of Arkansas Health Care Association, said that day: “There is so much going on with facilities right now, and health department and the facility updates with the health department daily.”

Bunch also told us that week of the 63 residents in the building and the 97 staff members for the facility, there have been 28 confirmed positive residents and five positive workers.

By April 17, the AHCA was reporting the following:

  • The first case reported on April 1
  • 22 in-house positive confirmed residents
  • 1 in the hospital
  • 1 patient who has passed away
  • 4 in-house presumptive positive cases
Discrepancy in number of COVID-19 cases at area nursing home has officials working to get answers

However, when Region 8 News spoke with Arkansas Department of Health officials April 17, they said there were 29 cases. Although their website says 24.

On April 28, the ADH was reporting a total of 2 deaths at the facility, while Bunch confirmed the 3.

She explained that the differences come from the time the ADH collects the data from each facility and that the extra death was reported after the ADH got Tuesday’s numbers.

Bunch reassured the third death would probably be reflected by the ADH’s data on Wednesday.

The Arkansas Department of Health addressed the discrepancy back on April 17 by saying, “We will be updating the map this evening. We’ve had some updating issues. Hopefully, the correct numbers for Lawrence County will be reflected this evening.”

Bunch added that this is a very fluid situation.

“We will work with them on that number and get that addressed. But, we know that there are humans involved, and everyone is doing the best that they can," Bunch said.

Bunch said the ADH Infections Control team visited the facility during the week of April 13, commending the efforts of the team.

She even addressed reports about the five team members who were tested positive.

“The facts are at Walnut Ridge, all the staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19, that’s five staff members, they are not working in the facility," Bunch said.

And for family members who are concerned with their loved ones who do or do not have the virus, Bunch says they are following CDC guidelines to stop the spread.

In all, she says she understands this is a hard time for everyone.

“We are doing everything that we can there to contain the virus, and I know the staff of the facilities and the residents there look forward to the day that we can open the doors again to visitors and invite them back in to see their love ones and those elders that we serve," Bunch said.

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