FutureCare nursing home in Baltimore confirms 170 cases of COVID-19, city says

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The FutureCare – Lochearn nursing home in Northwest Baltimore. Image via Google Street View.

A FutureCare nursing home in Northwest Baltimore reported an outbreak of 170 confirmed cases of coronavirus, city officials announced today.

One hundred twenty-nine residents in FutureCare Lochearn near the city-county line tested for the virus, as did 41 staffers. The outbreak ranks among the worst in the country, and has the second highest total of infections at a nursing home, according to data compiled by The New York Times.

Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said the operator proactively tested residents and staff, including people who were asymptomatic. The Baltimore City Health Department, the Maryland Department of Health, LifeBridge Health and Johns Hopkins are working to address the outbreak.

“We will continue to provide additional support as needed to help FutureCare support its patients and staff,” Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa said in a statement.

As part of that response, local officials requested one of the state’s “strike teams,” a group of National Guard troops, health officials and clinicians who triage residents at nursing homes and provide treatment.

Mike Ricci, a spokesman for Gov. Larry Hogan, said the request was received this morning. He also said anyone who tested negative for coronavirus is being moved out of the facility.

The city health department and LifeBridge Health distributed personal protective equipment. LifeBridge also worked with FutureCare to survey the facility and establish new medical protocols.

FutureCare spokeswoman Holly O’Shea said the company was an early adapter for restricting visitors and requiring everyone in the facility to wear masks.

“FutureCare’s highest priority continues to be the safety and well-being of our staff and residents, and we will continue to work diligently with the state and local health departments, our LifeBridge Health partners, and our Johns Hopkins infectious disease consultant, to protect our staff and residents,” she said.

The company runs 15 facilities in the Baltimore-Washington region, with 11 of those located in Baltimore City. On Friday, the Baltimore Brew, citing a source with a family member on staff, reported there were five confirmed cases with more test results pending.

According to the Brew‘s reporting, management at the Lochearn location and a FutureCare facility in Canton asked nurses not to wear masks for a brief period. O’Shea denied that.

Four other FutureCare facilities in the city have 12 confirmed cases combined, the Brew reported.

According to the Times data, the Soldiers’ Home In Holyoke, a veterans hospital and residence in Massachusetts, is the only nursing facility in the country with a worse outbreak. ABC News reported Tuesday that 44 veterans have died there since March, 36 of whom tested positive for coronavirus.

The U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier, a South Dakota meatpacking plant and jails in Chicago and Jackson, Michigan are some of the other sites in the United States with the most severe outbreaks.

The FutureCare nursing home is located in the 21215 ZIP code, which has one the highest infection rates in Maryland with 223 cases as of 10 a.m. this morning, according to the Maryland COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

Baltimore opened a testing site at Pimlico Race Course in the 21215 ZIP code last Friday.

In a statement, City Council President Brandon Scott said he hopes the outbreak at the FutureCare nursing home is “a wake up call” for people who are not self-isolating at home, practicing social distancing in public or covering their faces outdoors.

“I have stressed from the very beginning that our seniors are our most vulnerable population and would be disproportionately affected if we failed to follow the mandates put in place,” he said. “The news of FutureCare Lochearn is disheartening and terrifying.”

Brandon Weigel

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