This article was originally published by The Mennonite

Organizations in multiple states report COVID-19 cases

Mennonite Home, Lancaster, PA

Photo: Mennonite Home Communities in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is one of multiple Mennonite Health Services member organizations responding to COVID-19 cases. Photo by Dale D. Gehman

At least four residents at Mennonite Home Communities in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, who tested positive for COVID-19 had died as of April 7. Nine staff members had also tested positive and were self-isolating since they developed symptoms.

Mennonite Home Communities is one of six Mennonite Health Services (MHS) member organizations in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Iowa that had residents or staff testing positive.

MHS is a national association of 78 Anabaptist health and human service providers that includes senior living, mental and behavioral health, programs for intellectual developmental disabilities, troubled children and families, and acute care hospitals.

As of April 7, places with positive cases include:

  • Mennonite Home Communities in Lancaster, Pennsylvania: four resident deaths, 33 residents tested positive and nine staff members tested positive
  • Garden Spot Village in New Holland, Pennsylvania: one of three residents testing positive died, and one staff member tested positive
  • Landis Homes in Lititz, Pennsylvania: one deceased resident
  • Pleasantview Home in Kalona, Iowa: one staff nurse tested positive
  • Sunshine Communities in Maumee, Ohio: one caregiver tested positive
  • Greencroft Communities in Goshen, Indiana: one resident tested positive

Mennonite Home Communities CEO John Sauder was not available for comment, but directed inquires to updates on the organization’s website. On April 5, MHC indicated it is following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended protocols and control measures: “It is our intention to remain as transparent as possible during this unprecedented situation, while also being careful to protect the privacy of our residents, as we are required to do.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Health conducted an on-site assessment on March 31 and validated infection prevention and control measures that had been implemented.

MHS President Karen Lehman said on April 6 she was not aware of any MHS member organization that had reached a “crisis point” due to quarantine requirements, and that each MHS senior living community was complying with infection-control standards.

“They have been complying with these standards from the beginning when they were first issued,” she said. “But as we know, the virus was spreading for some weeks and has been finding it’s way from person to person transmission as it is for the rest of the population.

“It’s just much harder to contain it when once you have a number of your residents and staff exposed unknowingly. Each of the organizations are working directly with their health department on the positive case identification and reporting.”

With restrictions on visitation, chaplain services can be a challenge.

Donna Mack Shenk, director of pastoral services at Landis Communities based in Lititz, Pennsylvania, said she and her team were working to be conscious of the spiritual well-being of both residents and staff members.

“We aim to be a nonanxious presence for residents and team members,” she said. “In addition to providing devotions and a Sunday service via our TV channel, we are providing one-to-one and group support for team members.”

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