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11 new COVID-19 cases are tallied from August at Roselani Place

Facility management describes challenges in wake of complaints

COVID-19 infections in August at Roselani Place, an assisted living facility in Kahului, helped drive up Maui County’s totals Tuesday. This photo was taken of the facility Tuesday. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Maui County recorded 11 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday with Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino saying that they are from tests in August tied to the cluster at the Roselani Place assisted living facility.

During his news conference Tuesday afternoon, Victorino said PCR tests needed to be done to confirm positive antigen tests done at the facility, so it took some time to confirm the results.

Heidi Taogoshi, public health nursing supervisor at the Maui District Health Office, said at the news conference that the state Department of Health only posts positive PCR results in its totals. But all people with positive antigen results are investigated and are treated as if they had a positive PCR test, she said.

Maui County’s COVID-19 case count is now at 408.

Although Roselani Place increased the county’s total cases by 11 Tuesday, the facility reported no new cases from its last update Friday. As of Saturday, there have been 71 cases — 32 staff and 39 residents.

Of those cases, 12 are active with all but one being residents. All 12 active cases are asymptomatic, according to the update from the facility Tuesday.

Staff and residents, who have been negative, continue to be tested every four days, with the next test scheduled today.

A woman whose parents are living at the Kahului facility is concerned about the treatment and care of the residents. Last Wednesday, her 86-year-old mother tested positive for the virus.

“She and my dad are (living) in the same room. My dad is negative,” said the woman, who requested anonymity fearing her parents could be singled out.

It took several days before the couple was separated, the woman said. A room was found for her mother across the hall from her regular residence, but because her mother has dementia she wandered back into her old room to be with her 90-year-old husband.

On Sunday, the woman’s mother was moved to another floor of the facility.

The woman questioned facility officials about what would be done to keep her father from getting infected, but said she failed to get clear answers. She also questioned how patients like her mother, who wander, would be kept safe and how to keep others safe from getting the coronavirus.

She suggested that those who wander be equipped with an audio monitor.

The woman also wondered if her mother could have had a false positive test because she is asymptomatic.

Karl Drucks, a management representative for Roselani Place, said he did not know the specifics of the case relating to the husband and wife but could answer more questions if names were provided.

“To the best of our ability,” Roselani Place is isolating positive patients, and “two cluster units have been formed to mitigate the virus from spreading,” he said in an email.

Those who test positive are quarantined for 20 days, per state Department of Health guidelines, Drucks said. Staff members also work in two groups, which places them in two “bubbles.” 

“We are advised to maintain routine testing, wearing full PPE (personal protective equipment), practice social distancing and hand-washing, and continuous screening of staff as we remain on lockdown.”

The state DOH did not respond to an inquiry from The Maui News regarding directives for Roselani Place.

Regarding the handling of wandering patients, Drucks said that the facility is not licensed nor allowed to physically or chemically restrain residents or contain them in their respective apartments.

“We redirect, remind and guide residents; we do not provide one-to-one care 24-hours a day in any portion of the community unless the resident has a private third-party aide,” Drucks wrote. “Staff are positioned throughout the facility to help redirect and guide residents to the best of our ability.” 

As for the COVID-19 tests Drucks said: “We have done the nasal swabs, the Sofia (antigen) test and PCR.” He said the type of test offered depends on what the Department of Health recommends and provides.

“We cannot control false positive test results due to manufacturer error,” Drucks said. “We go with what is available and recommended at the time of testing.”

Staff levels have been maintained, despite the outbreak, through the help of staffing agencies and the National Guard, Drucks said.

“But that has thankfully been short-lived and diminished considerably, and we are able to cover the vast majority of positions in-house,” he said. “We have been blessed with very supportive and compassionate staff, willing to step in and go the extra mile to provide wonderful care to our residents. Without their dedication and selflessness, we would not be in the position we are today.”

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

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