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County follows state reporting rules on nursing home deaths

I regularly see reports that someone has died from COVID-19 “at his (or her) home.” I believe that in the great majority of these cases, the “home” referred to is an assisted-living facility or senior-living facility. While it’s true they have resided in these facilities for the final days of their lives, wouldn’t it be more accurate for the county health department to report the true nature of the “homes?”

— Robert, Medford

Jackson County follows Oregon Health Authority reporting requirements when reporting COVID-19 deaths, said Tanya Phillips, health promotion program manager with Jackson County Public Health.

“When someone lives in a long-term care facility, that is their place of residence. Therefore, if the place of death is at the long-term care facility where they reside, the Oregon Health Authority and local public health authorities report the location as their residence,” she said.

The state does track and list deaths associated with long-term care facility outbreaks. However, the state doesn’t define if a death was a resident, an employee or a close contact who is part of an outbreak, Phillips said.

Also, some long-term care facilities publish information on the number of residents who have died from COVID-19 on their websites, she said.

COVID-19 outbreaks are impacting care facilities, senior living communities and congregate living settings across the state, according to the OHA’s COVID-19 Weekly Report from Jan. 6.

The report tracks outbreaks with three or more COVID-19 cases or one or more deaths.

There were 4,853 cases and 323 deaths tied to current active outbreaks at facilities with at least six residents, the Jan. 6 report said.

The active outbreaks in Jackson County were impacting Table Rock Memory Care (112 cases, 18 deaths); Alderwood Assisted Living (seven cases, zero deaths); Kinsington Oak Grove Memory Care (three cases, zero deaths); Springs at Anna Maria (four cases, zero deaths); Linda Vista Nursing & Rehabilitation Center (45 cases, zero deaths); Hearthstone Nursing & Rehabilitation Center (70 cases, three deaths); Brookdale Medford (eight cases, zero deaths); Bartlett House of Medford (eight cases, zero deaths) and Avamere at Waterford (eight cases, zero deaths.)

Across Oregon, there were 162 congregate settings with five or fewer beds that were also suffering COVID-19 outbreaks as of Jan. 6. OHA doesn’t name those small adult foster homes to protect patient privacy.

The Oregonian reported in December that long-term care residents make up a small fraction of Oregon’s population, but account for about half of the state’s deaths from COVID-19.

They face the highest risk of death or severe illness from the virus because they are usually older and have underlying medical conditions.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.