Pleasant Acres reports five COVID-19 deaths, dozens of cases while state says 'zero'

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch

As of Tuesday, five residents of Pleasant Acres Nursing and Rehabilitation Center have died of COVID-19 in an outbreak first detected May 25 at the facility, a company spokesperson confirmed.

Data provided by the state Department of Health, however, still shows no cases or deaths at the long-term care facility in Springettsbury Township.

"At this point, many facilities are self-reporting data, and we need them to report complete and accurate data," Health Department spokesperson Nate Wardle said in an email Monday.

Pleasant Acres has self-reported having no employee or resident cases of COVID-19 and no deaths, Wardle said.

But in a June 12 statement provided by a spokesperson, Pleasant Acres administrator Tamatha Hetrick said the state's numbers were inaccurate and that her staff had reached out to state officials to correct the discrepancy.

A spokesperson said Tuesday that the state Health Department's nursing home data was last updated June 10 and that any new data will be reflected when the list is next updated.

Forty-two residents and 13 staff members tested positive for the virus between May 25, when the first case was detected, and June 15, Pleasant Acres spokesperson Ernie Garcia said.

"We were very successful in keeping the virus out of Pleasant Acres for more than two months due to the precautions and protocols that we were asked to follow by state and federal health officials," Hetrick stated.

Pleasant Acres Nursing and Rehabilitation Center administrator Tamitha Hetrick looks at resident-created Halloween pumpkins on display with resident Paul Stambaugh, formerly of York Springs, at the center Thursday, October 24, 2019. The facility was privatized when Premier Healthcare Management purchased it from York County in October of 2018. Bill Kalina photo

The vast majority of people who tested positive were asymptomatic, Hetrick stated.

State policies dealing with nursing homes and COVID-19 have been the subject of significant scrutiny over the past several weeks, particularly with regard to mandates that nursing homes and long-term-care facilities continue to accept new patients throughout the crisis, including patients being treated for COVID-19.

U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-Carroll Township, called for an investigation into Gov. Tom Wolf's COVID-19 nursing home policy in a May 14 letter to the deputy inspector of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

And the Republican members of the U.S. House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis sent a letter to Wolf requesting information about Wolf's policy decisions surrounding COVID-19 and nursing homes.

The governors of Michigan, California, New Jersey and New York received similar letters.

Wardle said Monday the Department of Health does its best to find out how an outbreak in a particular facility began but that officials often can't determine the cause.

"In many cases, it has been asymptomatic spread from the dedicated employees who are working in the facility," Wardle said.

Two of the five Pleasant Acres residents who died of COVID-19 had been sent to Deer Meadows, a sister facility in Philadelphia that was already dealing with in-house cases, to prevent further spread of the virus at Pleasant Acres, Hetrick stated.

But once the virus began to spread to other Pleasant Acres residents and staff members, the facility set up red and yellow zones, in line with state recommendations.

The red zone is for residents who have confirmed cases of the virus and the yellow zone is a quarantine area for residents suspected of having the virus or residents who have returned from the hospital and may have been exposed to the virus while there.

On Tuesday, The York Dispatch submitted a Right-to-Know Law request to the state Department of Health seeking documents showing whether any COVID-19 patients were sent to Pleasant Acres before the outbreak was detected May 25.

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