The William Breman Jewish Home is coping with another COVID-19 outbreak after several months without an issue. Nearly 30 residents and eight staff at the assisted-living facility on Howell Mill Road are reported to have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Until the current spate of cases, about a dozen residents had tested positive, but none since May, according to Jewish HomeLife, which operates the Breman Home and other independent- and assisted-living facilities in the Atlanta area, and also provides in-home services.
In a statement issued Sunday, JHL said: “We know how distressing it is to all of us that this pandemic afflicted so many of our residents and staff. Thankfully, the majority of our residents are still asymptomatic or are only experiencing mild symptoms. We appreciate your patience and support.”
The deaths of five residents at the Jewish HomeLife during April and May were linked to COVID-19, a JHL spokeswoman said.
Specific information about the source of this latest outbreak, first reported by WSB-TV, was not available, but in a statement issued last week, Harley Tabak, president and CEO of Jewish HomeLife, outlined the myriad challenges facing JHL’s facilities.
“We have been vigilant about our infection control practices, and in June received a deficiency-free COVID-19 CMS Survey Inspection by the state of Georgia,” Tabak said.
“However, even the strictest protocols do not make one immune. 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 employee’s 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,” he said in the statement.
“It is very unfortunate that despite our extraordinary diligence in obtaining and using proper PPE, cleaning practices, employee training, liberal PCR-based testing and aggressive contact tracing, that COVID was still able to enter our building. It saddens all of us that our residents are once again unable to visit with their families and enjoy the camaraderie of their friends and neighbors because this virus spreads so rapidly, and our efforts to contain the spread were not quick enough.
“We will continue to do everything possible to contain the spread, and we are hopeful that our residents and staff impacted by the virus will recover quickly,” the agency’s chief executive said.
JHL halted group activities and family visits in March at three assisted-living facilities — Berman Commons, the Breman Home, and The Cohen Home — as a precaution to prevent spread of COVID-19. Visits, now suspended again at the Breman Home, had resumed in late June.
About 30 to 35 percent of the more than 7,800 COVID-related deaths in Georgia have been residents of nursing homes or assisted living facilities, based on data from the Georgia Department of Community Health.
The DCH maintains a list COVID-19 cases in licensed nursing homes, assisted living communities and personal care homes of 25 beds or more. The list, which the state acknowledges may not always have the latest information, is based on data provided by operators of the facilities, who are required to report new cases within 24 hours to the families and the state.
A check of the state website Oct. 25 found the Breman Home — a 96-bed facility that opened in 1967 — listed as having 64 residents, and over time having reported 46 COVID-positive tests and seven deaths. That file also listed three staff members as having tested positive, a lower figure than reported in the recent outbreak.
After a series of positive COVID tests of residents and staff several months ago at the Berman Commons assisted-living facility, JHL has reported the site to be COVID-free.
In an email to the AJT, JHL said, “We have had no cases at The Cohen Home ever. Berman Commons has been COVID-free since your last reporting, and The Home hadn’t had any cases since May. Even our two independent living communities, The Jewish and Zaban Towers have maintained COVID free status.”