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Some long-term health care facilities see delays in COVID data reporting

Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 6:26 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - KCRG-TV9 has learned the public has an outdated picture of COVID-19 outbreaks in the state’s nursing homes and long term care centers. This week, the state reported 86 such outbreaks - the most since late 2020... before vaccine efforts started.

The state defines an outbreak as 3 or more COVID-19 cases among residents in the past 14 days. Through an Open Records Request, KCRG-TV9 got a detailed list of those outbreaks.

In Eastern Iowa Black Hawk County has 8, Linn County has 7. There are 2 each in Cedar, Washington and Dubuque counties. The Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown reports 90 cases among residents and staff - the most in the state. But more than a third of the outbreaks have 10 or fewer cases.

Leaders with NewAldaya Lifescapes in Cedar Falls said shortly after the holidays they did see a surge in employee COVID cases.

However they said the outbreak numbers the state has up now are at least two weeks old and don’t reflect the facilities current situation. And - they’re not alone.

As omicron continues to surge across country and in Iowa, leaders with the Iowa Healthcare Association say the number of cases being reported in long term care facilities is not surprising.

”Since the beginning of this pandemic, we have seen the number of cases in long term care directly correlate the number of cases we’re seeing in the local community,” said Lori Ristau, Vice President of Communications for Iowa Healthcare Association.

But CEO of NewAldaya Lifescapes Millisa Tierney said for their facility... that data is outdated.

”Right now I have no residents in our healthcare facility who have active disease. We have a few staff staff that are finishing up their quarantine,” said Tierney.

Tierney said long term care facilities are mandated to report their COVID data to the C-D-C and the Center for Medicare database site every week.

But she said when she sends data in... it’s for the week before...

”So that data is already a week old. It just depends then when centers for Medicare and CCD will update the data we send them,” said Tierney.

”It’s listing data as of January 9th. Well that’s why. It’s not really real time now to what’s happening here at NewAldaya and many other long term care providers. We’re seeing our cases resolve, decline and we’re coming out of this. Whereas back right around the holidays it was more peaking for us,” said Tierney.

An Administrator for Winslow House Care Center in Marion also said their numbers are delayed with just five residents and one staff member with positive cases. The state is reporting 32 cases at that facility.

We did reach out to Public Health. They say the Omicron surge has dramatically increased the number of cases reported and then defended itself saying it only has ten people doing this data.

And though they’re trying to keep up, the data for nursing homes will vary quite a bit over the next couple of weeks.

Bottom line... Iowa was seeing a surge in COVID-19 outbreaks at long-term care facilities weeks before the state was able to share that information.

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