ANDERSON — For the second day in a row Tuesday, Madison County was singled out by state officials for COVID-19 deaths at a local assisted living facility.
This time, the bad news — delivered at an afternoon press conference by State Health Commissioner Kristina Box — originated at Summit Health & Living in Summitville, where four residents have died of the dreaded coronavirus.
On Monday, Box had delivered the first dose of tragic news, saying that 11 residents of Bethany Pointe, a long-term care facility in Anderson, had died of COVID-19.
Stephenie Grimes, administrator of the Madison County Health Department, clarified Tuesday that her department had confirmed that three of the four deaths at Summit Health and Living were attributable to COVID-19.
Beth Harpe, president and CEO of Essential Senior Health and Living, said Tuesday that the facility “had been impacted” by the coronavirus.
“We are thankful for the support from our families,” Harpe said, noting that some employees and some residents had tested positive.
“The state initially only tested five residents,” she explained. “The state is coming back to do additional testing of all our employees and residents.”
The facility currently has 20 residents, according to Harpe. The website for Summit Health & Living notes that it has 34 beds.
“We are following all the (public health) guidelines,” Harpe said. “We are wearing masks, all our employees will have scrubs to wear and the residents are being isolated. We’re taking it day by day in these difficult times.”
Several family and community members have brought food and masks to the facility in recent days, she noted.
“Our long-term care facilities continue to be a big concern,” Box, the state health commissioner, said at Tuesday’s state press conference.
Facilities in Johnson and Lawrence counties have also seen residents die of the virus.
The state was sending 50 additional testing kits to Bethany Pointe, Box said, and Grimes confirmed that the state tested 25 Bethany Pointe residents on Sunday.
Box said that long-term care facilities should report known or suspected COVID-related deaths within 24 hours to local and state health departments.
“In addition to residents, facilities should also be reporting on any employees who test positive,” the state health commissioner said. “Our strike team is going out every day and testing more individuals in these facilities, and we expect to be able to share more data related to these efforts later this week.”
State Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, expressed sorrow Tuesday about news of the deaths at Bethany Pointe and Summit Health & Living.
“I was stunned and saddened by the news of the multiple deaths at Bethany Pointe caused by the coronavirus,” Lanane said.
“I have been in contact with ISDH officials who advised me of the actions they are taking to investigate these tragic deaths,” he said. “We must have confidence that ISDH will take the appropriate steps to address what has happened in this tragic situation.”
Summit Health & Living, formerly known as Summit Convalescent Center, is part of the Essential Senior Health and Living network, which includes facilities in Elwood and Anderson. The three facilities were part of a strategic partnership between Community Hospital Anderson and Community Senior Health and Living until the partnership was dissolved in March 2019.
Bethany Pointe is owned by Hancock Regional Hospital in Greenfield and had 44 occupied residential care beds and 32 occupied Alzheimer’s beds as of Jan. 17, according to a state health department report.
Bethany Pointe officials have not responded to a request for comment.