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La Crosse Co. continues to see long-term care facility outbreaks

Published: Oct. 8, 2020 at 6:45 PM CDT
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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) -

Wash your hands, wear a mask, don’t gather-- three tasks that have been repeated since March.

Doctors say while pandemic fatigue is real and you may be tired of precautions-- it’s important to stay vigilant.

Long-term care facility outbreaks in La Crosse County are leading to more deaths and the community can help slow the spread.

“Our long-term care facilities don’t exist in a vacuum,” said Jacquie Cutts, La Crosse County Public Health nursing manager. “They all have staff members that are a part of our community and their residents are a part of our community.”

In the past 14 days, three people have died and 29 new COVID cases have been reported in La Crosse County long-term care facilities.

Jacquie Cutts with the La Crosse County Health Department says the outbreak in no way reflects the efforts facilities have taken.

“I also want to emphasize how responsive and responsible and ethical each of the facilities have been in how they’ve handled that,” Cutts added.

Gundersen Health System and Mayo Clinic Health System with the health department have created a long-term care task force to help facilities prepare and respond to outbreak.

“One of the reasons that COVID is so catchy in this type of facility is that often time the caregivers who work in the facility are performing really intimate cares for the residents including bowel programs and basic needs like changing them and hygiene,” said Dr. Elizabeth Cogbill, a Gundersen Geriatric physician. “Everyone in these facilities, all the staff, are wearing their full PPE and unfortunately it still is able to spread.”

While employees are doing their part, managing memory loss patients is more difficult.

“They don’t necessarily remember to stay in their room or cover their face,” Cutts explained.

Dr. Elizabeth Cogbill reminds the community this matters and effects more than just those who live or work in long-term care.

“In the scope of a life this [pandemic] isn’t that long of a time and could we all just hold on and remember that our actions in this small period of our lives make a huge, huge difference in the lives of others around us,” Cogbill said.

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