After experiencing one of the deadliest COVID-19 outbreaks in Virginia last spring, Birmingham Green nursing home residents and staff have started receiving their first round of vaccinations.
Birmingham Green CEO Denise Chadwick Wright said Friday that more than 200 residents and staff at the facility were given first doses of the vaccine from CVS clinicians on Tuesday, Jan. 5. The second dose is scheduled for Jan. 26.
“At this time, 86% of our nursing home residents and 45% of our nursing home staff have received the first dose,” Chadwick said. “...The CVS team members were equipped with full protective gear, and we were very impressed by their professionalism, speed, and efficiency.”
Birmingham Green is a regional long-term care facility in Manassas supported by public funding from the city of Alexandria as well as Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun and Prince William counties. The facility houses low-income seniors and adults with disabilities in the Northern Virginia area. The nursing home has 249 total residents and 338 staff members.
At the beginning of the pandemic, an outbreak at the nursing home left 34 residents dead. It was among the worst nursing home outbreaks to occur in Virginia.
Birmingham Green reported another eight cases as recently as Jan. 8 involving six staff members and two residents, according to a letter posted on the Birmingham Green website.
In the most recent cases, two of the staff members work at Birmingham Green’s Willow Oaks Assisted Living and four work at the nursing home. The two affected residents reside at Willow Oaks Assisted Living, Wright said in the letter.
The most recent cases have not yet been reported as an “outbreak” by the Virginia Department of Health. It’s unclear whether the cases did not meet the state’s definition of an outbreak or whether a reporting lag has prevented them from being listed on the VDH website.
Because of Prince William’s high percent-positivity rate on COVID-19 tests, which has been hovering near 20% for the last few week, staff at Birmingham Green and other nursing homes in the local health district are required to test their staff members twice a week, according to VDH guidelines, the letter said.
Birmingham Green has temporarily paused its window and small outdoor social distance visitations due to the increasing local positivity rate but will continue virtual visits and in-person visits for “end-of-life compassionate care situations where in-person arrangements are allowed with appropriate PPE provided,” Wright’s letter said.
The elderly and those with existing medical conditions are especially susceptible to COVID-19. As of Jan. 8, the Virginia Department of Health has reported that at least 2,040 residents of Virginia’s long-term care facilities have died due to COVID-19. That’s more than 40% of the state’s total reported deaths from the disease.
The assisted living facilities at Birmingham Green – Willow Oaks and District Home – have 102 residents and 95 staff. They have not yet been vaccinated. Willow Oaks also experienced an outbreak that sickened 28 residents earlier this year, but the number of deaths is not reported on the Virginia Department of Health website.
Wright said vaccinations for residents and staff at the assisted living facilities are expected to begin in late January, with follow-ups in February and early March. Wright said the expected completion date for vaccinations at all Birmingham Green facilities is March 8.
Wright said the facility will continue to follow CDC guidance regarding the wearing of masks and social distancing and will continue to conduct facility-wide testing based on CDC guidelines.
“Now that the vaccine is here and we have started the process, I’d say the biggest feeling across campus is relief. This is the light at the end of the tunnel that we’ve been waiting for,” Wright said. “However, we still have to be careful.”
Reach Daniel Berti at firstname.lastname@example.org