The majority of residents and employees at Arbor Springs Health & Rehab Center who tested positive for COVID-19 are rebounding and on the path to recovery.
The Opelika-area nursing home was hit hard by the virus beginning in late March with 68 residents testing positive. The virus led to the deaths of 20 residents, Arbor Springs said.
“Every death had a profound effect on us,” Annie Swanson, administrator of Arbor Springs, said. “Even though we’d seen the impact on nursing home residents in other parts of the country, we were so sad not to be able to ‘fix’ this for our families and our residents.”
Employees at the facility were also exposed to the virus. Forty-one employees tested positive for COVID-19, 38 of which have already recovered and returned to work, Arbor Springs added.
One of the residents who is fighting the virus is Ruth Royer, an 89-year-old who tested positive for COVID-19 on April 11. There were times during her fight when her future looked uncertain but is now rebounding, Arbor Springs said.
Royer’s son, David, is thankful for the staff at Arbor Springs for helping his mother battle the virus.
“It’s kind of an amazing story that she survived,” Royer said. “Arbor has done a fantastic job.”
Where they are now
Arbor Springs has not detected new infections of the virus since May 1 and has seen glimmers of hope for those who previously tested positive for COVID-19 despite the remaining coronavirus threat.
Some residents continue to battle the virus but at least three-quarters are described by medical staff as being on the recovery side of the fight.
“This is a true testament to the hard work of our staff and their refusal to give up and give in to this virus,” Swanson said. “They persevered even when they were uncertain or afraid or grieving outcomes that were not what we wanted. Their commitment to our residents never wavered.”
The ‘recovery side’ isn’t simply testing negative for coronavirus. The nursing home uses a combination of medical criteria to identify when residents have passed the intense state of infection. Recovery can be a lengthy ordeal, Arbor Springs said.
“Our goal is to recover and restore – to get them back where they were when this began,” Cheri Place-Chaffin, director of nursing at the facility, said. “The virus leaves them malnourished and weak, and they don’t bounce back overnight. When they’re no longer fighting the infection, they can start the process of regaining that lost ground.”
Arbor Springs remains vigilant over its residents when it comes to COVID-19. The home is relying on its understanding of its residents and is aggressively monitoring and lab testing to keep track of each individual’s symptoms and health.
“We are truly blessed with a great team,” Place-Chaffin said. “We know it takes all of us working together and that we need to treat the person and the symptoms, not simply rely on the results of a single test. This kind of monitoring helps us to stay on top of what is happening with every resident and to be proactive in our care.”
Arbor Springs’ system in fighting the virus was developed by its medical team in partnership with physicians and nurses at Elmore Community Hospital and Simpra Advantage, which offer coverage to individuals in long-term care, the nursing home said.