Two New Country Side Residents Test Positive for Covid-19; Total Now at 9

Two additional residents tested positive for Covid-19 Saturday at Country Side Living, a privately owned long-term care facility in downtown Canby specializing in the care of those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Six residents have now contracted the novel coronavirus since the first confirmed case one week ago, along with three staff members, for a total of nine. Country Side had 51 residents when the outbreak began.

Staff have been following strict protocols and using personal protective equipment to protect themselves and other residents, the facility says, and the new positives are not necessarily evidence that the virus is spreading within Country Side.

It can take as long as three or four days for Covid-19 symptoms to appear, with an additional one to two days for the test results to come back, so it’s possible these residents were exposed before the new protocols snapped into place.

Though they are fully stocked now, and have been coached on the proper use of PPE by Clackamas County public health experts, Country Side staff admit they had difficulty acquiring the recommended N95 respirators and other critical equipment such as gowns and face shields before the outbreak was confirmed earlier this week.

While Country Side staff and residents face the challenge of battling the infectious and potentially deadly coronavirus, the Canby community has come together to offer their support. Facility spokeswoman Michele Quinn says they have been overwhelmed by the positive messages of encouragement and appreciation and prayers. Some have even brought lunch for Country Side staff so they can focus on their work of caring for residents.

A new effort emerged this weekend, as Terri Berkey Gonzalez, sister of Country Side owner Erik Berkey, and volunteers spent some time papering residents’ outside windows with weatherproof hearts in a gesture of love and hope.

Part of a wider movement called “World of Hearts,” it was, in Gonzalez’s words, a “love bomb” to Country Side Living.

“This was about loving our neighbors — specifically, those who don’t have the ability to really see their family and friends right now,” Gonzalez said. “We also wanted to thank those who serve in places like Country Side — who put themselves at risk each day and are providing love and care to the lonely, confined and separated.”

Thus far, facility staff have been successful in their strategy of isolating the outbreak to the larger north building. Staff assigned to the north building are not being allowed to enter Country Side South, located across Fir Street, and vice versa.

North building employees who are concerned about the possibility of being exposed to the virus and spreading it to their loved ones or the community have been offered the use of Thelma’s Place, the affiliated day respite program that has been suspended since last month by order of Governor Kate Brown.

Thelma’s Place, which is accessible to Country Side North via a closed courtyard, has a private employees’ area where staff can shower and change into fresh clothes before leaving campus.

Country Side has also activated a new means of communicating the latest information on the Covid-19 outbreak with residents’ family members, loved ones and the greater community: a pre-recorded phone line that will be updated each day at 3 p.m. To hear the latest, call 971-900-9894.

Seniors and those with underlying medical conditions are at much higher risk for serious repercussions or death from Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus, and despite statewide efforts to protect them, the disease has taken its toll.

As of Sunday, all but six of the state’s 91 Covid-related deaths have been Oregonians age 60 or older, approximately half of them residents at long-term care facilities.

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