COAL TOWNSHIP — The Pennsylvania National Guard will start a staffing support mission at Mountain View: A Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 2050 Trevorton Road, this weekend.

The facility has reported an increase of 34 active COVID-19 cases among residents and 11 among staff since Tuesday.

Administrator Kelli Martz stated in a notification letter Friday to resident families that there are 86 active resident cases of COVID-19, and that the facility’s cumulative total is 114. Sixteen residents showed new onset of respiratory symptoms within a 72-hour period.

She also reported 28 active staff cases for a cumulative total of 43. There were seven staff members with new onset of respiratory symptoms within a 72-hour period.

Keith Hickox, state public affairs officer for the Pennsylvania National Guard, said the National Guard conducted a site assessment with the Department of Health to determine if there were unmet needs at the facility.

“The support team will consist of approximately 16 soldiers and airmen including several nurses and medics,” he said Friday.

Since April, the Pennsylvania National Guard has conducted 20 similar staffing support missions at long-term care facilities throughout Pennsylvania. These missions are initially planned for five days and extended based on the need.

Department of Health spokesman Nate Wardle said Friday that the department “works to assist anywhere there is an outbreak with more than one case with consultation and information sharing, and further if needed.”

He would not confirm whether a team from the Department of Health visited the facility this week, adding that the department has refrained from commenting on specific facilities in which it sends a team into.

According to the Department of Health’s most recent report on long-term case facilities, released noon Wednesday, the 271-bed facility had 182 residents. No deaths were reported.

Martz stated Friday, “Mountain View: A Nursing and Rehabilitation Center has welcomed the support from Geisinger Clinic, the region’s Regional Response Health Collaboration Program (RRHCP), the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and the Pennsylvania National Guard as we continue to navigate through uncharted waters of the 2020 pandemic.”

The RRHCP teams, she said, will directly support COVID-19 continued readiness and response planning in long-term residential care facilities (LTCFs), improve quality of care related to infection prevention, expand COVID-19 testing and facilitate continuity of care and services provided by LTCF’s in an attempt to mitigate the risk of spread of COVID-19 to staff and residents.

This effort is a collaboration between Department of Human Services, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA).

Martz said the RRHCP team was onsite in August to introduce themselves, meet the Mountain View team, review the facility layout, infection control processes and explain the role of the RRHCP program for nursing homes. Preventative measures were put in place prior to the first positive case to include universal use of face shields and N95 masks.

“The RRHCP team has been onsite providing support from the beginning of the first active case and continues. The RRCHP team, along with physicians from Geisinger and the Department of Health, were onsite Thursday, along with the National Guard to work in conjunction with the dedicated staff at Mountain View,” Martz said. “The Infection Prevention Team, working with the RRHCP team, under Act 24, was on site and commended the Mountain View team on their procedures and protocols.”

She said the RRHCP team will continue to provide on-site clinical, operational and administrative support. In addition, the Department of Health has completed two onsite visits reviewing infection control measures, and identified no deficiencies related to infection control related processes.

Mountain View has implemented various preventative measures, including restricting visitation, resident and staff health screenings, strict hand washing, and the use of personal protective equipment.

Martz said, “Mountain View has remained vigilant in communicating with families, providing updates regarding the care of the residents and staff. Upon confirmation of the first positive test, Mountain View provided notification to all residents, resident responsible party, staff, medical staff and all required regulatory agencies, and continues with providing the updates necessary based on the reporting requirements.”

Martz acknowledged and thanked the facility’s staff for their “dedication, compassion and commitment” during the pandemic.

“Thank you to our resident families, local EMS, first responders, hospital staff, RRHCP team, the National Guard and all of those who are fighting this battle along-side of us,” she said. “We want to also thank the families and community for their ongoing support of our residents and staff through notes of encouragement and other practices.”

For Northumberland County, on Sept. 22 there were seven facilities with cases: 254 resident cases, 71 employee cases and 42 deaths. As of Friday, there are seven facilities with cases: 291 resident cases, 78 employee cases and 46 deaths, according to the Department of Health.

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