by June Pichel Cook and Doug McClure
CRAFTSBURY – The COVID outbreak at Craftsbury Community Care Center (CCCC) that began in mid-December with a handful of cases has grown to include more residents and staff members.
As of Sunday, the state reported 28 cases at the facility. CCCC board member Penelope Doherty confirmed that 15 residents and 13 staff had tested positive. In an e-mail, Doherty said stated that a resident who tested positive had died, but that the final cause of death “will likely be a complicated death certificate as the resident had significant challenges prior to testing positive” and chose hospice over treatment.
Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine on Tuesday said that while residents of Long-Term Care Facilities (LTCFs) are in the age group most vulnerable to COVID, many residents also have advanced directives and DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) orders that limit the course of treatment per the residents’ wishes. Levine said that while LTCFs represented 70% of COVID deaths in Vermont, those numbers were not typically due to any fault of the facilities but reflected “much higher” circulation of the virus in surrounding communities than earlier in the year.
The outbreak at CCCC aligns with a rise in cases in Craftsbury. At the beginning of December, the Department of Health (DOH) reported that Craftsbury had six cases. As of last Wednesday, the DOH said that number had increased to 35.
Board president Jane Marlin and Doherty are acting as the contacts for community communications so that CCCC staff can focus on resident care.
In a Front Porch Forum statement in mid-December, Doherty outlined guidelines for community members to show support.
“We knew we had COVID-19 outbreaks in Craftsbury and surrounding communities. Now, despite incredibly diligent adherence to protection protocols, we also have an outbreak at our beloved CCCC,” Doherty stated.
Residents are tested Tuesday and Fridays.
“Because this stretches staff resources so thin, we hope to emphasize that questions and offers to help should come through board president Jane Marlin and myself, to allow the care center director and staff [to provide] phenomenal care under very trying circumstances.”
Doherty said, “Positive residents who don’t need hospital care are being treated in place. If you have questions or want to help with something, please contact me (802-586-2486, email@example.com) or Jane Marlin (802-586-7721). We are fielding questions from families, community, and press.”
Doherty asked community members not to drop off cookies, food, or other items, but encouraged people to honor the staff and residents by donating to the Hardwick Area Food Pantry.
Nursing, medical staff, and LNAs who are willing to help on a temporary basis are especially needed and urged to come forward. Interested parties should contact Doherty, Marlin, or Kelly Peters, RN (802-755-6369).
“Vermont Health Department and Department of Aging are providing superb support, and discussions about additional staff resources are underway,” Doherty said.
Doherty said in a statement that the CCCC is also accepting donations to help offset the added pressure of COVID-related expenses. CCCC is a non-profit. To donate click the link from the CCCC website at bit.ly/3aQtAE5 or, Doherty wrote, “mail a check made out to CCCC to me at PO Box 38, Craftsbury 05825 or drop at Jane Marlin’s house.”
She added, “You’ll receive our everlasting thanks plus an acknowledgment for tax purposes.”