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Seven residents of Vancouver long-term care facility died of coronavirus

Highgate Senior Living has become one of the largest known outbreaks in Clark County with 26 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

PORTLAND, Ore. — A long-term care facility in Vancouver has seen 26 confirmed coronavirus cases in the past month, including seven deaths, according to health officials.

The first confirmed coronavirus case at Highgate Senior Living in Vancouver involved a staff member on April 5, explained Clark County Public Health Director Dr. Alan Melnick.

The virus spread quickly through the facility’s memory care unit, infecting a total of 18 residents and 8 staff members, said Melnick.

The cluster of deaths and confirmed COVID-19 cases at Highgate Senior Living has not previously been reported.

Sixty residents live at the facility in Vancouver, which provides long-term care and memory care.

“Assisted living facilities like this are more like home environments where people spend time in close contact with one another,” explained Dr. Melnick.

The first death at Highgate Senior Living occurred on April 11, according to health officials. Five residents have died within the past week, including two patients on March 23 and two more on March 24.

“Our hearts go out to all that are affected, even those who tested negative. It’s been a really hard time,” said Amelia Adkins, director of marketing for Highgate Senior Living.

Local, state and federal health officials have been working with the Vancouver facility. Every resident was tested for COVID-19, starting on April 13.

Health officials required no new residents be admitted to the facility and no visitors allowed inside.

RELATED: Real-time updates: COVID-19 transmission may have plateaued in King County

Nursing homes and long-term care facilities around the country have been hit hard by coronavirus. Many of their older residents are frail, have underlying health conditions and live in close contact with one another making them especially susceptible to infection.

Additionally, health workers and staff come and go from the facilities.

A review of state and federal inspection records showed no major infractions related to infection control at Highgate Senior Living in Vancouver.

Melnick explained, like many other long-term care facilities and hospitals, acquiring protective equipment for staff has been difficult.

“With this facility I know that it’s been challenging getting them enough gowns,” said Melnick.  

Clark County has reported a total of 21 deaths due to coronavirus. Highgate Senior Living in Vancouver makes up a third of those fatalities.

RELATED: Home care providers in Oregon feel unprotected without personal protective equipment