FARGO — Four people at a north Fargo nursing home have tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by a novel coronavirus that is sweeping the globe.

Rosewood on Broadway, at 1351 Broadway N., announced Wednesday, April 8, that two residents and two employees have the illness.

The residents are isolated at Rosewood and the employees are in isolation at home, the facility said in a statement.

"We are taking all necessary precautions and have contacted employees and residents who may have come into close contact with them," the statement said.

The news comes as a long-term care facility in Moorhead announced a case of COVID-19.

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Moorhead Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center, at 2810 Second Ave. N., reported that a resident tested positive and has been moved to a separate wing, with dedicated staff.

In a statement, the facility said it has taken all recommended preventative actions, including screening staff for symptoms and stopping all communal dining and recreational activities.

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The announcements mean six congregate living centers in the area now have known or reported cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday, April 8.

Riverview Place at 5300 12th St. S. in Fargo is the site of at least three cases, including one death, and The Meadows at 1315 S. University Drive in Fargo reported one case April 2.

In Minnesota, the St. Francis Nursing Home in Breckenridge and Eventide in Moorhead are listed on the state health department’s website as experiencing an outbreak, defined as one or more residents or staff testing positive for COVID-19.

However, Eventide disputes that designation because it relates to an essential visitor — a Sanford nurse practitioner who came in contact with residents of Eventide on Eighth at 1405 7th St. S. on March 23, and later tested positive for COVID-19.

Further, Eventide CEO Jon Riewer said they have had no positive cases in residents or staff, and the 14-day quarantine period from that essential visitor exposure has passed.

A Sanford employee who visited Eventide on Eighth in Moorhead on March 23 later tested positive for COVID-19. The facility has not had any COVID-19 cases among residents or staff. Tanner Robinson / WDAY
A Sanford employee who visited Eventide on Eighth in Moorhead on March 23 later tested positive for COVID-19. The facility has not had any COVID-19 cases among residents or staff. Tanner Robinson / WDAY

'List of shame'

Riewer said while it bothers him that Eventide remains on what he calls the state health department’s “list of shame,” he’s asked his team at Eventide to move past it.

What’s important is how well Eventide does when the virus shows up in one of its buildings, because “it’s a matter of when, not if,” he said.

With a “scorecard mentality,” he said people may rush to get loved ones out of a facility with a positive COVID-19 case and move them to a facility without one; however, facilities are going to discourage transfers back and forth as more cases are reported.

“It’s not going to matter. What are you going to do when it arrives on your site?” Riewer said.

John Riewer, president and CEO of Eventide in Moorhead.
John Riewer, president and CEO of Eventide in Moorhead.

To that end, Riewer said Eventide has made extensive, strategic moves to ensure that the novel coronavirus doesn’t enter its facilities, and if it does, to keep it from spreading.

Available space at Eventide on Eighth has morphed from a transitional care unit to an infectious care unit, he said.

There, newly admitted residents must wait out a 14-day quarantine, with no symptoms, before they’re moved into more permanent living arrangements.

Eventide is doing twice a day temperature screenings on residents, and, like many long-term care facilities, halted group activities.

“I never thought I’d see the day,” Riewer said.

Rules vary in ND, Minn.

Having different rules and regulations for long-term care facilities on each side of the Red River can also cause confusion and inconsistencies.

The Minnesota Department of Health began disclosing long-term care facilities with COVID-19 cases on April 4, while North Dakota is leaving the decision up to individual facilities.

For example, Riewer said if the Sanford employee exposure that happened at Eventide on Eighth had occurred in North Dakota, the facility would not have been required to inform residents.

In Fargo, disclosure of COVID-19 cases at long-term care facilities has been spotty.

The Meadows on University notified residents and their families on April 2 about a resident who tested positive shortly after admission from another medical facility.

At Riverview Place in Fargo, owned by Catholic Health Initiatives, none of the three known cases has been publicly acknowledged by the facility, which has cited federal privacy regulations for not disclosing that kind of information.

It also has not made anyone from upper management available for comment.

The COVID-19 cases at Riverview Place only came to light through confirmation from families.

Riverview Place at 5300 12th St. S. in Fargo has had at least three COVID-19 cases among residents, including one death.
Riverview Place at 5300 12th St. S. in Fargo has had at least three COVID-19 cases among residents, including one death.

Residents ask for transparency

Roger Lehne, 93, died at the Fargo VA Medical Center on March 26, North Dakota’s first confirmed death from COVID-19. His wife Teresa, 84, also a resident of Riverview Place, has been hospitalized at Sanford Health with coronavirus.

Several days later, Riverview Place announced it was testing all residents and staff for COVID-19; however, it would not disclose whether any tests had a positive result.

On April 7, resident Teresa Griggs said she has tested positive and has been isolated at her apartment.

Griggs, 60, told WDAY’s Kevin Wallevand she lives on the same floor as the Lehnes did.

She said there is a sign on her apartment door warning of her illness, and a staff member checks her temperature every four hours. She is getting better, she said.

Her parents also live in Riverview Place, and her mother, Joayne Griggs, said she has seen about a half dozen apartment doors with similar warning signs on them and staff members, wearing extra protective gear, going in and out.

She said she understands the need for privacy but doesn’t think people should be left in the dark.

“A little more of this should be noted to the residents,” Joayne Griggs said.

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