ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) – As the coronavirus death toll continues to rise in the United States, nursing home and assisted-living facilities in Southwest Virginia are preparing for the worst.

Over the last few weeks, leaders at the Friendship Retirement Community in Roanoke have been working through policy and procedural changes to ensure all residents are safely protected.

The safety of nursing homes is a big concern not just in Southwest Virginia, but across the country.

Family members of residents at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington are still searching for answers after the nursing home became the site of the worst coronavirus outbreak in the United States.

As of March 9, 19 coronavirus deaths have been linked to the facility. Over 30 residents, who still reside at the site, have tested positive for the virus.

Family members of patients at Friendship have been increasingly concerned.

In hopes to provide loved ones with peace of mind, leaders say they are working with the Virginia Department of Health and closely monitoring patient symptoms.

Additional procedural changes include:

  • Installation of handwashing stations in the lobbies of their buildings. Visitors are asked to wash their hands prior to coming any further into the facility.
  • Signage. Signs have been posted asking individuals not to visit if they are experiencing fever or upper respiratory complications.
  • Increased housekeeping rounds, specifically cleaning contact surfaces.
  • Required COVID-19 tutorial for all team members. The tutorial goes over the CDC’s recommended best practices to prevent the spread of the virus. Facility leaders are also having all-staff meetings over the coming days to review items in-person as well.

Leaders also say their top priority is not to induce unnecessary fear. Hear more from Stephanie Landes, Director of Marketing at Friendship:

WFXR reached out to other local retirement communities on how they’re preparing for potential coronavirus cases.

“At Brandon Oaks, we have formed an interdisciplinary task force to address the coronavirus outbreak and how our facility will respond. We already have an infectious disease policy in place for situations such as this, however we are taking extra precautions and increasing the cleaning and sanitizing of common areas, encouraging good hygiene with proper hand washing, providing hand sanitizer, asking employees to stay home if they are sick, and residents to stay in their apartments if they do not feel well. We are also asking visitors who are feeling ill to stay home and postpone their visit. We have other precautions ready to enact if the situation escalates, but right now we are in the preparation and precaution phase.”

Nicole L. Bruch
Corporate Marketing Coordinator
Brandon Oaks Life Plan Community

South Roanoke Nursing Home in Cave Spring has refused to comment.