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Health & Science

7 Residents From One Akron Senior Facility Have Died From COVID-19

Nearly half of all COVID-19 deaths in Summit County come from one retirement community.

Ohio Living Rockynol in Akron has seen seven residents die from the infection, said Melissa Dardinger, spokesperson for Ohio Living.

“I do believe those deaths occurred in the hospital, not onsite at Ohio Living Rockynol,” Dardinger said.

There have been 16 deaths from COVID-19 as of Tuesday in Summit County, according to the public health department, though the Ohio Department of Health tallies the number of Summit County deaths at 15.

In addition to the deaths at the senior living facility, several residents are ill and hospitalized because of the virus, Dardinger said.

 “We have five residents who are in the hospital currently. We have five residents that are being treated for COVID-19 in our skilled nursing center and three that are being treated for COVID-19 in assisted living," she said.

Nursing homes, where many elderly and vulnerable patients live in close quarters, have been identified by state and local health officials as potential hot spots where the virus can easily spread.

Health officials have been unable to give information to the public about which nursing homes have COVID-19 cases and the number of cases and deaths associated with those facilities because of patient privacy laws.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has addressed the issue several times in the almost daily coronavirus briefings he delivers to the public from Columbus. The governor announced a new order Monday requiring long-term care facilities to notify families within 24 hours if a resident or staff member has tested positive for the disease, but then on Tuesday he appeared to backtrack and said the order was being reviewed by attorneys.

Ohio Living, which operates 12 senior communities in Ohio, has voluntarily shared information with the public about coronavirus in its facilities, Dardinger said. The company notifies residents, employees and family members when there is a confirmed case, or if the status of a sick patient changes, she said.

“We understand it’s a difficult situation. We understand how hard that is for people,” she said.

Ohio Living would support the governor’s efforts to make this information available to the public if the privacy issues can be worked out, Dardinger said.

“It’s so important for people to know what’s going on, just to have confidence that their loved ones are safe. Rumors can be terrible in a time like this,” she said.

The Breckenridge Village in Willoughby has two residents who died from COVID-19 and there have been five confirmed cases from residents who live in the independent living section of the facility, Dardinger said.

The other Northeast Ohio property operated by the company, Lake Vista in Cortland, has had one confirmed case and no deaths, she said.

Ohio Living is working with the Ohio Department of Health and local health officials to isolate the sick patients being treated in the facility and to manage sanitation procedures, she said.

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