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News Feature

Deer Isle
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, September 30, 2021 and The Weekly Packet, September 30, 2021
Two COVID-19 cases at Island Nursing Home

by Leslie Landrigan

The Island Nursing Home is asking for volunteers to sign up to help in case staff members leave because two of its people tested positive for COVID-19, according to unconfirmed reports.

Tests for a vaccinated contract staff member and one resident came back positive for COVID-19. Five residents had symptoms for the virus, but their point-of-care tests came back negative, according to unconfirmed reports. An email in response to the newspaper’s request to INH officials did not confirm the information.

During last winter’s COVID-19 outbreak that killed 14 residents, 13 clinical staff members walked out during the nursing home’s COVID-19 outbreak, according to Ronda Dodge, INH board president. Since then, Dodge said INH has struggled with already difficult staffing shortages.

The INH board announced in August that it is closing the facility on October 26. The nursing home has begun to move its 55 residents to new homes.

Rich Howe serves on a task force on the facility’s future, headed by Ronda Dodge, INH board president. He said “a number” of INH staff are not vaccinated. He urged people who said they’re willing to help out at the nursing home to step up.

“In three weeks time, the federal government will prohibit any health care worker who’s not vaccinated from working or they will suspend federal payments,” Howe said in a Healthy Island Project Zoom call on September 28. “If there is not enough staff the remaining patients will have to be moved to the emergency room.”

Executive Director Matthew Trombley said INH has been working with Maine’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention and has isolated and quarantined all affected residents according to protocols. He said only a few individuals associated with the nursing home are unvaccinated.

Volunteers willing to help in case of a staffing shortage should call INH to provide their name, number and details about which days they can help and with what duties.