St. Therese Nursing Home Death Toll Climbs to 55; Plymouth Man Shares Perspective
The number of COVID-19 cases continues to grow at St. Therese of New Hope senior campus. CCX News has confirmed that 55 residents have died from the virus at the New Hope nursing home and 147 others have tested positive.
The death toll at St. Therese has spiked from 12 back on April 23. It’s one of two New Hope nursing homes that have been hit hard by the novel coronavirus. At North Ridge Health and Rehab, less than a mile away, at least 44 residents have died from COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.
The deaths come as the Minnesota Department of Health enacts a “battle plan” to respond to infection outbreaks at long-term care facilities. About 80 percent of all the state’s 591 deaths as of Monday have come at congregate care settings, which include nursing homes.
St. Therese contains 258 nursing home beds at its senior campus. It’s the site of the state’s deadliest outbreak and one of the largest nationwide since the pandemic began.
“My first thought was she wasn’t going to make it.”
Ryan Peña of Plymouth says his 67-year-old mother, Diane Peña, recently tested positive for COVID-19 and is a resident at St. Therese.
“She was confirmed to have coronavirus, a week ago on Saturday,” said Ryan Peña. “They tested all the people there, but she has never shown symptoms. My first thought was she isn’t going to make it. She had a stroke, so her mind doesn’t work as it did before, and sometimes she gets scared and doesn’t know what’s going on, and she has some dementia.”
Peña worries about his mom, especially since there are so many cases at the New Hope facility. He says she has been at St. Therese since January.
“My sister was in tears. I was in tears. We just need something positive to happen.”
Peña says St. Therese told him they were going to keep his mother in her room and quarantine her for the next 10 days. But eventually, she was moved to a different area and he has a hard time keeping in contact.
“Since she’s been diagnosed, which has now been 12 days, I’ve only been able to talk to her two times, and that’s been really really tough,” he explained.
The family was about to move their mom to a long-term facility in Winona to be near her daughter.
“The day before we were going to move her, the CDC put a lockdown on transfers,” said Peña.
Nursing Home Previously Cited for Inadequate Infection Control
According to Medicare.gov, which lists inspection reports, St. Therese received four stars out of five for overall rating, but received just two of five stars for health inspections
Peña says his family was already concerned about his mother’s care before she tested positive for the virus.
“My mom needs a CPAP machine. She has congestive heart failure. A couple of weeks go by, and the CPAP seems like it was in the exact same position. I looked behind it one day and realized it was never even plugged in. The plug was at the other end of the room,” said Peña. “We got confirmation they had never been using it, which was terrifying to us. That’s a big issue.”
He says this all happened at the beginning of the COVID-19 cases.
“We should have gotten her out of there soon, but there was no way to know this was going to happen,” said Peña.
Statement from St. Therese
St. Therese says it’s working to follow guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the federal Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC). The New Hope facility also pointed out many of its residents have health care directives that prevent intubation, increasing the death toll.
Barb Rode, president and CEO of Saint Therese, provided CCX News the following statement:
We’re communicating numbers to residents, families/guardians and public agencies. We are also following closely the guidance of MDH and CDC in cohorting residents, as we have since this escalated, and equipping staff with PPE as possible. One other point for context here is that it’s very common in facilities like ours for very elderly or infirm residents to have in place advance directives not to resuscitate or intubate if the patient is mortally ill.”
CCX News Executive Producer Corey Bork contributed to this report.