EXCLUSIVE: Seven residents at the Actors Fund Home in New Jersey have died from COVID-19 and 11 others have tested positive for the virus, according to officials at the entertainment industry retirement home. With 116 residents, the home in Englewood, NJ, sits in one of the nation’s hotspots for the coronavirus.
The first coronavirus-related death at the facility was recorded April 10.
Some 35-40 staff members – mostly care-givers – also have tested positive, or are showing symptoms and are in quarantine because of their direct exposure to residents who tested positive. No staffer has died, however.
“This has been extremely difficult for our entire team,” Jordan Strohl, the retirement home’s administrator, told Deadline. “We go to great lengths to take care of our residents and to ensure that they receive quality care. Having a virus like this come into the facility and impact the residents and the Home has been devastating.”
In his latest update to family members, Strohl wrote: “As of today, Friday, April 17, 2020, we continue to do more testing and address the needs of residents showing signs or symptoms of Covid-19. Currently, we have 11 positive residents, 10 negative residents, and we have two pending test results. Unfortunately, two of our positive residents from earlier in the week passed away last night. This brings our total loss of residents from COVID-19 to seven residents.”
He added: “The Actors Fund team is relentlessly battling this virus. Some of staff who had been out sick have recovered and returned to work. And we expect to see more staff recoveries over the weekend and into next week.”
Early on, the home took extraordinary measures to prevent the spread of the virus, locking down the facility and creating a COVID-19 wing with airlocks at either end – even before New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s March 21 statewide “stay at home” order. It now has set up a second wing for COVID-19 patients only.
“The most important thing is hyper-vigilance – making sure that we monitor our residents in terms of any changes and conditions,” Strohl told Deadline, noting that staffers are and have been fully equipped with personal protective equipment, including masks, gowns, gloves and protective face shields.
“Our wonderful nursing department and doctors closely monitor residents,” he told family members. “At this point I am happy to report that we are seeing fewer residents who are showing any signs or symptoms of the virus. In fact, the number of residents we have placed under observation and who have been tested has continued to decline as the week progressed: the curve is flattening!”
“I am personally in the building every day, and yes, the days are long and the weeks are longer but my team is doing everything we can to keep residents safe,” he wrote. “We have lost seven residents, which is simply seven too many. But we are cautiously optimistic that things are starting to turn around. Seeing residents and staff beat this disease has been incredibly uplifting and has given the rest of the team the hope it needed.”
On the West Coast, the Motion Picture & Television Fund’s skilled nursing home in Woodland Hills has lost four residents to the virus.
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