October 26, 2020
A COVID-19 outbreak at The William Breman Jewish Home in October was linked to at least six resident deaths as well as nearly four dozen residents and more than a dozen positive tests among staff. The coronavirus struck roughly three-quarters of the residents of the skilled nursing facility operated by Jewish HomeLife.
In addition to those six deaths, five deaths at The Breman Home during April and May were linked to COVID-19. As of December, a database maintained by the Georgia Department of Community Health listed 14 COVID-related deaths there.
The Breman Home “stopped taking new rehab and long-term care residents as soon as we found our first resident case,” JHL spokeswoman Shari Bayer said. The positive tests among staff also forced Jewish HomeLife to tap The One Group, a part of JHL that provides home care, as well as outside agencies to ensure the necessary number of clinical staff. By late October the 96-bed facility had a resident count of 59.
In an Oct. 21 statement, JHL president and CEO Harley Tabak reviewed the challenges faced at the facilities that the agency operates at three Atlanta area sites, as well as the home care services it provides. “Once COVID enters the environment, it can spread quickly before even the first symptom is identified. As a nursing home, we must always balance critical infection prevention protocols with our employees’ own personal lives, with a hospital’s need to release rehab patients regardless of COVID status, and our residents’ psycho-social needs of seeing their loved ones,” Tabak said.
The October outbreak concerned the families of residents. Miriam Karp, whose 91-year-old mother Hazel Karp was among those testing positive, said the situation “is a nightmare, a real nightmare.”
Concerned about the welfare of her mother, who tested positive for COVID-19, Jayne Seckinger stood outside the Berman Home holding a sign that read “Frieda Needs Help.” The sign was seen and Frieda Smith, 89, improved after receiving a sports drink with electrolytes and a nutritional drink with protein, her daughter said. In talking to the AJT, Seckinger stressed that “I love the Jewish home. It is Atlanta’s beloved Jewish home.”