FARGO — The Minnesota Department of Health is now releasing the names of long-term care facilities where residents and staff have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and one of those facilities is in Moorhead.
However, it does not appear North Dakota will follow suit, at least for now.
Jennifer Skjod, public information officer with the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services, said the state continues to “leave that decision to the facilities” and encourages them to reach out to families of those residents.
“We can understand how worrisome this could be for families,” Skjod said.
However, she also said it can’t be assumed North Dakota “would never consider” releasing names of facilities where cases have popped up, because the guidance is continually changing.
On Thursday, April 2, Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm announced the state would soon begin posting the names of all facilities larger than 10 beds that have a diagnosed COVID-19 case among staff or residents. In Clay County, Eventide Lutheran Home is included on the list; a Sanford nurse practitioner who tested positive for coronavirus had come in contact with residents at Eventide March 23.
However, in a statement released just before 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 4, Eventide Senior Living Vice President of Marketing and Communications Carrie Carney said the facility is erroneously included on the list and that Eventide officials are working with the Minnesota Department of Health to fix the error.
Carney's statement said the facility may be included because a Sanford employee who tested positive had been in the building approximately two weeks ago.
"We do not have any positive cases in our facilities, including our Moorhead campus where the Sanford employee was present," Carney said in the statement.
In Wilkin County, St. Francis Home in Breckenridge is also included on the list as having an outbreak.
Prior to that, as cases began spreading in long-term care facilities in Minnesota, the state cited data privacy concerns for not releasing the locations.
Facilities were encouraged to report outbreaks to family members, but not required to disclose or post the information.
As of April 2, long-term care facilities were the source of 71 cases of coronavirus in Minnesota and most of the deaths from the virus. Out of 18 deaths in the state then, 11 were among congregate living residents.
A case in a North Dakota retirement community only came to light after the resident died — the state’s first death from COVID-19.
Roger Lehne, 93, a Navy veteran who lived at Riverview Place in Fargo with his wife, died March 26 at the Fargo VA Medical Center. His 84-year-old wife, Teresa, has been hospitalized at Sanford Health in Fargo with the illness.
The cases prompted the North Dakota Department of Health to recommend testing of all Riverview Place staff and residents and adoption of further restrictions.
The testing at Riverview was completed mid-week and its owner, Catholic Health Initiatives, said results were expected shortly after.
However, a statement issued by CHI said, “We cannot comment on the personal health information or status of any individual because of privacy laws.”
The Forum was able to obtain information about two residents and their test results.
Maloye Lesmeister, 74, who lives two doors down from where Lehne and his wife lived, said she learned Thursday that her COVID-19 test was negative.
She said it would be good to know about any additional cases at Riverview so she could tell her family; however, it doesn’t make a difference to her, she said, and she felt staff were taking all the precautions they could.
Pamela Matchie-Thiede also got good news about her 91-year-old father, Jim Matchie, at Riverview.
She said he received word Thursday that his test also was negative.
Matchie-Thiede said transparency in these matters is important, but she also doesn’t want to see facilities vilified for having positive COVID-19 cases.