By Mary Clarkin
CHENEY – A small-town nursing home with a strong record of health and safety inspections has been identified as one of Sedgwick County’s deadliest COVID-19 clusters with 12 resident deaths.
The 45-bed Cheney Golden Age Home eluded the coronavirus until the fall, when it compelled the nursing home to dedicate two of its three wings to caring for COVID-19 residents, according to the widow of a resident who died there in October.
The nursing home reported its first resident death from a suspected or confirmed case in October. By the week ending Nov. 8, the total resident death toll from COVID-19 had surged to 12, according to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) database. The Nov. 8 CMS report is the most recent one available.
The widow, who asked not to be identified, told The Active Age on Thursday that she believes the number of deaths is now higher, based on her communication with other families that had members in the home. The administrator at Cheney Golden Age Home declined comment Thursday morning.
Unlike the other two deadliest COVID-19 clusters identified to date in Sedgwick County — Meridian Rehabilitation and Health Care, located in Wichita, and Clearwater Nursing and Rehabilitation Center — the Cheney home has a good record of health and safety inspections. Its overall rating on the Medicare.gov website is five stars out of a possible five stars, for a “much above average” rating.
Meridian and Clearwater, which both have one-star ratings on medicare.gov and a history of being fined for health and safety infractions, have experienced 13 and 12 COVID-19-related deaths, respectively, according to information from the CMS and Sedgwick County.
Sedgwick County has not provided information about the location of COVID-19 deaths since mid-October, but the CMS database shows that deaths in area nursing homes have continued and spread to more homes. A review of CMS data of 46 long-term care homes in Sedgwick, Butler and Harvey counties shows that 18 have reported suspected or confirmed COVID-19-related deaths. They are:
Avita Health and Rehab at Reeds Cove, 2; Catholic Care Center, 4; Cheney Golden Age Home, 12; Clearwater Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 9; Diversicare of Haysville, 7; Kansas Christian Home in Newton, 1; Kansas Masonic Home, 1; Lakepoint Wichita, 1; Larksfield Place, 2; Legacy at College Hill, 3; Life Care Center of Wichita, 3; Medicalodges Goddard, 3; Meridian Rehabilitation and Health Care Center, 13; Newton Presbyterian Manor, 1; Orchard Gardens, 1; Regent Park Rehabilitation and Healthcare, 1; Rolling Hills Health and Rehab, 3; and Wichita Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare, 1.
The discrepancy between CMS data and information earlier provided by Sedgwick County, which put the Clearwater home’s death toll at 12, has not been explained.
The CMS database that tracks weekly positive cases and deaths at nursing homes accepting Medicare/Medicaid residents has delayed data and does not include non-Medicare facilities. But it reveals more data than the state or most counties.
The Cheney home is owned by a nonprofit corporation created in 1962 by seven Cheney residents.
For the week ending Oct. 11, it had 41 occupied beds. Sedgwick County announced during that week that the Cheney nursing home was a new COVID-19 cluster, with four cases among staff and three cases among residents but no deaths. All residents had been tested and the staff was being tested daily, the press release said.
By the week ending Nov. 8, occupancy had plummeted to 24.
Also by the week ending Nov. 8, the total number of Cheney Golden Age Home residents who were confirmed cases of COVID-19 since January was 30 — a number that includes those who died and those who tested positive and survived.
Almost as many staff members have tested positive for the virus as residents, but none has died. Confirmed cases among staff began to appear in the CMS data before the confirmed cases in residents.
Statistics show COVID-19 at Cheney Golden Age is ebbing since its peak in October.
In the Oct. 9 press release from Sedgwick County, Cheney Golden Age Home Administrator Teresa Achilles said, “The health and wellness of our residents and the caregiving teams who support them is our number one priority.”