Bethesda reveals the results of testing of residents, employees


(Willmar MN-) Willmar's largest senior living facility has some good news regarding recent wide-scale COVID-19 testing. Bethesda Thursday released results of organization-wide COVID-19 testing and reported zero confirmations among residents of its skilled nursing and assisted living facilities in Willmar and Olivia, as well as its largest independent living setting. However, 14 staff members, who were not displaying symptoms, tested positive and they have been removed from the schedule.

Bethesda President and CEO Michelle Haefner says “This is a remarkable accomplishment. Reporting no positive test results among our skilled nursing residents and assisted living and largest independent living setting tenants, truly depicts the dedication and adherence to our advanced infection control policies put forth by our frontline heroes.”

Bethesda began proactive testing of all residents within its skilled nursing facility, Bethesda Grand, and assisted living facilities, Sunrise Village assisted and independent living of Willmar and Park View Village of Olivia, on Monday, May 16. This commenced their commitment to broad-scale, weekly testing of all residents and tenants which will continue through the week with the testing of tenants at its Centennial Square in Willmar and Fairview Place partnership in Olivia. Weekly staff testing began Friday, May 15, in collaboration with its private lab partnership.

This broad-scale staff testing effort has led to more than 850 tests and resulted in the identification of 14 lab-confirmed positives from asymptomatic staff members.

“While this is concerning, we are glad we know. Had we not known of these asymptomatic carriers; we could have unknowingly been at risk for potential spread. Because of this knowledge, we were able to take prompt action, removing positive staff from the schedule, as well as conducting thorough internal contact tracing,” Haefner said. All confirmed team members detected through the testing process experienced no symptoms and are now following guidance from health officials for isolation and care

Bethesda views this positive cumulative rate of approximately 1.6% among staff, resident and tenants as promising. Reporting a rate well below the Minnesota Department of Health’s expected rates of 5-30% for similar facilities within the state.

“We credit this low rate to the strict infection control, PPE, screening process and physical distancing our team members embrace each day,” Haefner said. “To know that we have unknowingly had 14 asymptomatic carriers of the virus within our settings, yet not one resident or tenant disease transfer speaks volumes to the infection control procedures practiced by our staff. Their actions are keeping our community’s most vulnerable population protected.”

Bethesda began its second round of staff COVID-19 testing Thursday and will continue to conduct organization-wide proactive testing on a weekly basis. They continue to share on-going COVID-19 developments as they become available to promote peace of mind, comfort and public health prevention efforts.