BUTTE — While Butte’s rate of positive COVID-19 cases is going down, the coronavirus has had a devastating effect on the long-term care homes and their elderly residents.
As of this week, the Butte-Silver Bow Health Department has reported 37 COVID-19-related deaths with all but four happening in five of Butte’s nursing homes. These facilities have been closed to visitation since early spring, but the virus still managed to get into them.
“You know because residents are so isolated, it likely is staff, because resident, you know, unless they were moved to the hospital, rarely went anywhere,” said Butte’s Health Department Director Karen Sullivan.
Continental Care and Rehabilitation had the most deaths with 13 and Big Sky Senior Living recently reported three fatalities. Dozens of staff members at nursing homes have reported testing positive for COVID-19.
The outbreaks were first reported in early November, but a cause has not been determined.
“I think all things are under consideration, including HVAC issues, you know, even trying to determine whether even moving air through a facility may have moved along the airborne virus. There’s a lot to consider, we may never know, but once it got in, it got in,” said Sullivan.
Whatever the cause of the outbreaks, one thing’s for certain, that the staff at these nursing facilities have been working hard and putting their own health at risk trying to keep the residents safe.
“I think, you know, in my work with these facilities the pendulum has been over here in regard to their management of COVID and they were successful in keeping COVID out of their facilities for quite some time,” said Sullivan.