44 COVID-19 Deaths Reported at New Hope’s North Ridge Nursing Home
**NOTE This story has been updated to include statement from North Ridge**
A New Hope nursing home is the second long-term care facility in the city to have at least 40 COVID-19 deaths, CCX News has confirmed. North Ridge Health and Rehab, located at 5430 Boone Ave. N., has a reported 44 deaths and 68 positive cases. It’s the second-highest figure for deaths at a senior living facility in Minnesota so far behind only the St. Therese of New Hope nursing home, which reported 47 deaths.
“I feel so bad for the residents, their families and staff,” said New Hope Mayor Kathi Hemken. “The staff is very dedicated, these guys are just devastated over this.”
Another 27 residents at North Ridge have recovered from COVID-19, including six in the last two days, said a North Ridge official.
New numbers from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), show 508 people have died from COVID-19. Of those deaths, 407 are from people who lived in nursing homes or assisted-living facilities.
North Ridge is a 320-bed nursing home, the largest long-term care facility in the state. According to MDH’s Office of Health Facility Complaints, there are five substantiated complaints against North Ridge since January 2016. The complaints include neglect of care, neglect of supervision and medication errors.
The North Ridge facility first opened in 1966 and now includes senior apartments and assisted living, in addition to skilled nursing care. It employs nearly 600 people.
Statement from North Ridge
According to a statement from North Ridge, because it’s the largest long-term care facility in the state, “it follows that all our numbers are going to be higher than the average facility,” said Austin Blilie, North Ridge’s vice president of operations-Minnesota.
Blilie also points out that North Ridge is “one of the very few long term care facilities in Minnesota that is actively accepting new patients from hospitals and other long-term care facilities who already have a COVID-19 diagnosis.”
North Ridge has taken 15 new admissions of COVID-19 positive patients in the last 10 days, said Blilie. He says that is because both the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Emergency Operations Center “have determined that our strategies for treating this insidious virus and helping these vulnerable people are, in fact, best practices. We are working very closely with both organizations on a daily basis.”
Blilie says North Ridge has dedicated, isolated COVID-19 units and all staff has been trained on treatment protocols and strategies for reducing the spread of the virus. He notes the number of in-house positive results has decreased since April 26
“We are managing our staffing levels effectively, constantly monitoring employees for symptoms,” Blilie said.
Five-Point “Battle Plan” to Help Long-Term Care Facilities
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz outlined a five-point-plan aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19 to long-term care residents and staff. The plan included:
- Expand testing for residents and workers – one big change is expanding testing to all facility residents and staff if there’s a confirmed case or when multiple people show symptoms.
- Provide testing support and troubleshooting – this point includes working with health systems to create “strike teams” that quickly conduct on-site testing and necessary follow-up.
- Get PPE to facilities.
- Ensure adequate staffing – this step includes activating Minnesota National Guard to help with on-site staffing and logistics. “We are going to be doing a lot of training,” said MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm during a media briefing Thursday.
- Leverage state partnerships
“We are prepared to go on the offensive,” said Governor Tim Walz. “For many of these facilities, they were not stocked up on PPE and gloves a few weeks ago.”
Many facilities have dealt with staffing shortages before the outbreak due to low pay and difficult work. COVID-19 has only exacerbated the problem, said Malcolm.
“It’s been challenging for the long-term care providers to attract and retain skilled staff and the numbers that are needed,” she said.
The shortage has the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development putting out the call for workers to participate in a CareerForce Virtual Career Fair next Monday, May 11 from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
“COVID-19 Not Hitting All Long-Term Care Facilities Equally.”
Malcolm pointed out Thursday the fragility of long-term care residents. They account for less than one percent of the state’s population, but make 15 percent of COVID-19 cases and 80 percent of the state’s deaths. Cases at the various facilities are also different. One in five nursing home facilities has a confirmed case. It’s one in 10 for assisted living. Most facilities that have cases only have one or two cases.
“COVID-19 is not hitting all long-term care facilities equally,” said Malcolm.
There are 332 long-term care facilities statewide that have confirmed cases, with 187 with one or two cases.
List of Facilities in Northwest Metro with Exposure to COVID-19
The Minnesota Department of Health website lists 24 facilities in the northwest suburbs with “exposure” to COVID-19. Exposure could mean a COVID-19 case either from a resident, staff member, or visiting service provider. Some congregate care facilities may not have ongoing transmission, according to MDH. Facilities with fewer than 10 residents are not be listed.
- Homeward Bound Inc.
- St. Therese of Oxbow Lake
- The Waterford
- Ecument Prairie Lodge
- Presbyterian Homes and Services Maranatha
- The Sanctuary
- Covenant Living of Golden Valley
- Meadow Ridge Senior Living – Golden Valley
- Sunrise of Golden Valley
- Rose Arbor
- Willows of Arbor Lakes
- Good Samaritan Ambassador – New Hope
- North Ridge Health and Rehab – New Hope
- Saint Terese of New Hope
- Benedictine Senior Living at Steeple Pointe
- The Villa at Osseo
- Mission Farms Nursing Home
- Parks’ Place
- The Birches at Trillium Woods
- The Waters of Plymouth
- Copperfield Hill – The Lodge
- Good Samaritan Society – Specialty Care Community
- Robbinsdale A Villa Center
CCX News Executive Producer Corey Bork also contributed to this report