LINCOLN, R.I. (WPRI) – Assisted-living facility Atria Lincoln Place is grappling with an outbreak of new coronavirus infections that has spread quickly through its memory-care unit.
The R.I. Department of Health confirmed Wednesday the Lincoln-based facility has 16 new infections, representing one of the largest outbreaks inside an assisted-living facility since September, according to historic data.
A Health Department spokesperson said the new infections all happened within the facility’s memory-care unit, a specialized type of care for people living with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. The 16 infections represent more than two-thirds of the 21 residents who live there.
A spokesperson for the Lincoln facility’s owner, the Kentucky-based for-profit Atria Senior Living, later said six employees had also tested positive for the infection — also in the same unit.
“We feel like we are doing everything possible to protect our residents and staff in the face of an unprecedented public health situation including proactive testing, contact tracing, and infectious disease protocols that are continually being upgraded as conditions evolve” said Stephen Squatrito, regional vice president, in a statement. “We have also taken precautions to optimize staff and resident safety through the holidays and beyond.”
Up until last week, Atria had only reported between two and four cases throughout the entire pandemic, according to a running tally of cases within assisted-living facilities and nursing homes.
The memory-care unit was swabbed Tuesday, according to state health officials, and the results all came back Wednesday morning. It wasn’t immediately clear whether there had been more cases in other parts of the facility.
“We are working closely with the facility this morning,” Health Department spokesperson Joseph Wendelken said. “The response we are doing with the facility is standard: cohorting cases, reviewing and enhancing infection control measures, and quarantining contacts. There will also be continued serial testing of staff and residents.”
Like nursing homes, assisted-living facilities have been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis. As of last week, at least 380 residents across nearly 30 assisted-living facilities in Rhode Island had contracted the virus since March 1, and at least 80 of them had died.
For comparison, at least 3,715 residents have tested positive across nearly 70 nursing homes and at least 910 of them have died, according to state data.
Both nursing homes and assisted-living facilities were relatively successful at keeping the virus out over the summer after a tough spring. But since infections have surged again in recent months, cases and deaths are again beginning to rise in different types of care facilities across the state.
Tim White contributed to this report.