Employee at South Roanoke Nursing Home tests positive for COVID-19

Coronavirus testing tubes
Coronavirus testing tubes (AP)

ROANOKE, Va. – A certified nursing assistant (CNA) at a Roanoke nursing home has tested positive for COVID-19.

South Roanoke Nursing Home announced Thursday night that the positive result was confirmed with the local health department just before 4 p.m.

As of 10 p.m. Thursday night, management had just finished notifying employees and families of residents.

The employee with COVID-19 last had access to the facility on Monday afternoon, according to an update from South Roanoke Nursing Home administrator Katie Curfiss.

The employee was screened on Monday upon entering and leaving the building but showed no signs or symptoms of illness, according to Curfiss.

Curfiss said the employee wore personal protective equipment (PPE) the entire time they were working.

When a facility is tracking an active case among its residents or employees, the health department requires staff to wear PPE and log staff and resident temperatures, among other safety protocols. Curfiss said at South Roanoke Nursing Home, these protocols were proactively put in place early and aggressively, long before the confirmed case.

The facility will continue to go “above and beyond health department requirements,” according to Curfiss.

The facility had already restricted all in-person social and family visitation. Management is encouraging families to stay connected with their loved ones via phone calls, texts and video chats.

A separate facility in Blacksburg that is also under the umbrella of American HealthCare, LLC saw a positive case of COVID-19 this week as well. The two facilities are completely separate and do not share staff members, according to management.

Read the full statement below:

"To Our Valued Residents and Family Members:

We have tried to call each of you via phone and hopefully have already connected. However, just in case, we are reaching out through another channel with an important message.

We wanted to inform you right away that one of our care team members, a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) who works at the South Roanoke nursing home, was diagnosed with COVID-19 this afternoon. We were notified by the staff member directly at approximately 3:45pm and confirmed this information with the local health department just before 4pm. We set to work calling each resident’s family and each of our employees and attempted to speak with each of you one on one. Now, we also want to take an extra step and provide you with this written announcement to keep you fully informed and to ensure everyone has the same accurate information.

Accordingly, we can confirm that the staff member last had access to our facility on Monday afternoon. They were screened upon both entrance and exit from the building. They showed no signs, symptoms, or indications of illness at that time. They did not have an elevated temperature and wore personal protective equipment (PPE) the entire time they were working.

We are also able to confirm that, at this time, no American Healthcare residents, at any of our 18 facilities, have been diagnosed with COVID-19, nor are there any other suspected cases in either our residential or employee ranks.

While there is much that is still unknown about how this illness spreads, we have been told by local health authorities that our aggressive and early mitigation measures, in combination with many of the smaller protocol and physical plant adjustments we have made, are some of the most effective ways to manage potential exposure and community risk. At our request, the health department again reviewed our current Covid-19 operating procedures this afternoon and confirmed that we are doing everything we can to respond appropriately to this difficult situation, and, importantly, that the risk of transfer within our facility remains low.

As a matter of course, the health department recommends that any care facilities tracking an active case immediately begin requiring all staff members to wear masks, to take the temperatures of all staff at the beginning of each shift, and to log the temperature of every resident every day. As you likely know, each of these protocols was proactively put in place early and aggressively at South Roanoke and all American Healthcare facilities. The latest addition, the requirement of all staff to wear masks, was implemented universally April 3, 2020 and was already standard operating procedure at many locations.

Resident safety is, and will always remain, our top priority:

Effective immediately, we are monitoring all residents and staff with ever-more diligence. As an extra precaution, we have implemented additional temperature checks and safety protocols, above and beyond health department requirements

We are also currently analyzing all interaction records so that we can continue to closely monitor and limit further exposure with, or to, anyone who came in contact with the recently diagnosed party

We have already restricted all in-person social and family visitation and, unfortunately, it remains crucial that we continue to do so

We understand that this recent development is worrisome, and that you are very likely concerned. Despite facility lockdowns, family member connections remain critically important to our resident’s wellness and quality of life. We continue to unequivocally encourage all family members to connect with their loved ones frequently through Skype, Facebook Messenger, traditional phone calls, texting, and other social media formats. If you would like help connecting through any of these newer technologies, please do not hesitate to let our team know. We will be happy to assist.

Additionally, if you have a family member in our care, we encourage you to contact us for more specific updates on their individual status. As always, if circumstances change, and your loved one is ever suspected of having any illness, including Covid-19, we will contact you right away. In the meantime, we want you to know that we are taking every precaution to prevent the spread of infection, to care for your family member at the level you expect, and to keep you fully informed. Still, we know that you may have questions. Please don’t hesitate to contact me, or anyone on my leadership team accordingly.

Finally, it’s worth repeating that we need your help to contain this global pandemic. Please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website to keep up to date on how you can help prevent further spread in our communities.

We will continue to provide you with updates as they become available.


Katie Curfiss

Licensed Nursing Home Administrator

South Roanoke Nursing Home


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