Niles nursing home sees 43 COVID-19 positive tests

NILES — Positive cases of COVID-19 are continuing to rise at a Niles nursing facility.

West Woods of Niles Nursing Center, at 1211 Stateline Road, is reporting 43 positive tests of COVID-19 from its facility. Testing was ongoing through last week, and positive results rose from 37 on Friday to 43 by Monday.

“The staff and leadership [at West Woods of Niles] continue to go above and beyond in their care for those infected, in working with local and state health officials, and in regular communication with the families of those who are sick, as well as residents and families at the facility,” said Matthew Resch, representative of West Woods of Niles Nursing Center from Resch Strategies.

In a release on May 4 from West Woods of Niles, the executives of the facility said that the facility was carefully following care and isolation procedures that both the local health department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had outlined.

The release also stated that affected residents had been moved to an isolated part of their facility for supportive treatment, and some have been hospitalized.

“This is an extremely stressful time for our residents, their loved ones, and our heroic staff members,” the release said.

The Berrien County Health Department is working with area long-term care facilities to ensure that they are educated with the best practices under the current conditions of personal protection equipment shortages and community transmission of COVID-19.

“In the case of West Woods of Niles, they have a corporate office that is really driving a lot of their testing through facilities,” said Gillian Conrad, communications manager for the Berrien County Health Department. “We’re seeing more and more that a lot of these assisted living facilities are owned by a parent company. It seems like the corporation is making more decisions about universally testing their staff and residents. We’re really there for technical assistance and partnership.”

With nursing homes and assisted living facilities already housing vulnerable populations, Conrad said the close living conditions make it an environment where viruses can spread easily. The health department works within its role of educating on preventing community spread, as well as providing PPE, when possible.

“In a lot of the cases with nursing homes where staff have been tested, they are finding people who test positive but are asymptomatic—never felt sick, never had a fever, and reported for work because they felt just fine,” Conrad said. “When they were tested, they were positive. So, there’s a likelihood that we have more of that asymptomatic spreading happening than we even know about it. That’s how it’s making its way into these nursing homes and facilities.”

Conrad emphasized the continued importance of masks and adhering to PPE recommendations.