This photo and article first appeared in the Vail Daily on May 28, 2020
EAGLE – For a second consecutive week, no new cases of COVID-19 have been found at Castle Peak Senior Life and Rehabilitation in Eagle.
Earlier this month, the senior care facility reported that three residents and four staff members had tested positive for COVID-19 prompting an aggressive response from the facility in partnership with Vail Health. Staff and residents were retested May 14 and again on May 21.
In a May 27 press release, Castle Peak Senior Life & Rehabilitation Administrator Shelly Cornish reported the negative COVID-19 testing results.
Cornish stated that when the first positive test occurred in early May, Castle Peak notified Vail Health and Colorado Mountain Medical. Both organizations, in partnership with Eagle County Public Health and Cassia — the Minnesota-based company that operates Castle Peak Senior Life and Rehabilitation — mounted its COVID-19 response to test every resident and staff member within the following 24 hours.
Cornish said the rapid response from Vail Health early on in the process allowed everyone involved to know the true extent of the outbreak and contain the spread of the virus by taking appropriate isolation and infection control measures. She noted the testing effort was repeated for three consecutive weeks to determine if any additional cases had occurred. The third test indicated there were zero new positive cases of COVID-19.
“Castle Peak is extremely grateful for the rapid diagnostic testing capability of the Vail Health Lab. The lab has been building this capability and has been able to support Castle Peak in situations when testing is crucially needed,” Cornish said.
She noted that Castle Peak staff continues to mourn the loss of one resident, who was an irreplaceable, vital member of the senior care facility community.
“Other developments have been more encouraging and we can now report that all three residents who initially tested positive made full recoveries and have had two subsequent negative tests,” she said.
Residents of Castle Peak Senior Life and Rehabilitation have reached out to the Vail Daily during the COVID-19 outbreak.
A resident in the rehabilitation wing was one of the positive COVID-19 cases.
“With so much negative publicity that has surrounded these types of long term/nursing home care facilities, I would just like the world to hear the other side of the story,” the patient wrote. ” I was one of three residents that tested positive for the pathogen. The facility immediately set up and isolated the three positive testing patients in a separate environment, affectionately termed ‘Club COVID’ from the rest of the facility.
“I was incredibly well cared for and upon testing negative twice in a row, I was transferred to the non-contaminated wing of the facility to continue needed post-surgical therapy. I again would like to praise and thank the members of the Castle Peak medical team, the nursing staff, support crew and administration for guiding me through this potentially fatal exposure to the virus, allowing me to check out of Club COVID to safely continue my needed post-surgical therapy.”
Another resident shared the good news about the facility’s consecutive negative COVID-19 tests but noted safety restrictions at the facility are difficult for the facility’s residents.
“Today is day 80 of our quarantine, affecting all of us in different ways,” the resident wrote.
Open for admissions
With testing to demonstrate there has been no COVID-19 spread, Castle Peak Senior Life and Rehabilitation announced that as of May 27 the facility is again open to take admissions.
Cornish said Castle Peak continues to take elevated precautions that include staff members wearing goggles and face shields at all times. At the start of each shift, a health screen is taken of each employee. In addition, ongoing communication is occurring with Eagle County, the Colorado Department of Health, Castle Peak’s Medical Director and the Cassia home office. She noted that the ability to test residents and staff rapidly will continue to be an important resource for the senior care facility.
“Thanks to the relentless pursuit of the Vail Health Laboratory, we now have rapid diagnostic testing capability,” said Will Cook, Vail Health President and CEO. “This gave us the ability to quickly test every resident and worker at Castle Peak Senior Center multiple times.
“Our internal lab is able to provide near real-time testing of emergency room patients, inpatients and pre-surgical patients,” Cook added. “We are very grateful for their dedication and hard work. In the Vail Valley, we are very fortunate to have such a substantial testing capacity, very few communities and few hospitals have this capacity today.”
“Castle Peak continues to be grateful for the dedication of our staff, whose commitment to the health and well-being of those we serve is nothing short of inspirational,” said Cornish. “Everyone has pulled together to achieve this remarkable result: no positive cases for the second week in a row at Castle Peak.”