Sylvan Woods

Sylvan Woods is among many nursing homes in Ottumwa taking precautions against the new coronavirus through restricted visits.

OTTUMWA — While there are no cases of the new coronavirus in Ottumwa yet, the virus’ spread is having effects in the community.

Good Samaritan Society in Ottumwa has suspended visits due to virus concerns. Vista Woods Care Center, Ridgewood Speciality Care, Prairie Hills, Sylvan Woods and Pennsylvania Place have done the same.

Jana Stansberry, Vista Woods office manager, said the facility is in the process of getting procedures in place and following guidelines proposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Stansberry said as of noon on Wednesday they are not accepting visitors.

“We’re having no visitors at all until further notice,” Stansberry said. “There’s the highest risk for susceptibility for people older than 80. There are increases of risk as they have serious health conditions.”

Mary Strunk, Prairie Hills office manager, said they are not suspending all visits, immediate family and medical providers are the exceptions. It was a corporate decision to suspend visits.

“This is what we want for our community,” Strunk said. “We are currently under state of emergency due to virus concerns. We are concerned about our residents which is why we are taking these precautions. [Visitors] must come in the main door, sign in, and take their temperature. They will take a survey on whether or not they were out of the country. We don’t have threats here, but we are just taking precautions. This may change depending on what the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] is recommending.”

It’s not just facilities like the nursing homes that are bracing for the virus. Wapello County Sheriff Don Phillips said his department is working on a plan in case the virus were to become an issue in the jail. If inmates or staff were to come in contact with the virus, quarantine would be an option.

“We would also work with Wapello County Public Health and emergency management to combat what would need to take place,” Phillips said.

Jail staff will also monitor inmates and take note of any concerns. If inmates were to get the virus, Phillips said they would transfer the inmates to another facility.

“If they can’t be released we would look for further options,” Phillips said. “If they have had contact, we don’t want it spreading to other parts of the jail.”

Other emergency workers face the risk of coming in contact with the virus through their jobs. Fire Chief Tony Miller called the issue “a daily conversation” at the department.

Like Phillips, Miller said he is coordinating with public health officials for advice and watching what steps other emergency medical services take. “We’re going to handle that the same way they do,” he said.

Chiara Romero can be reached at cromero@ottumwacourier.com.

Chiara Romero can be reached at cromero@ottumwacourier.com.

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