ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — State surveyors with the Alabama Department of Public Health released a statement on Thursday, April 1 that Robertsdale Rehabilitation & HealthCare Center is now in full compliance with public health guidelines. The facility was cited in February for a lack of testing after nearly 140 COVID-19 cases, including at least four deaths, were reported between December and February.
During a follow-up visit at the facility, located on U.S. 90 in Robertsdale, the Alabama Department of Public Health verified that the facility has addressed gaps in COVID-19 testing for employees and took steps to prevent future issues, including:
-- Notifying employees about testing procedures.
-- Educating employees about testing.
-- Performing employee tests as required.
-- Ensuring that residents will be tested if a staff outbreak occurs.
According to a report in February by ADPH, a survey was conducted at the facility over a two-week period from Jan. 26 to Feb. 5, and the facility “failed to consistently conduct outbreak testing for 13 of 16 sampled staff, when it was indicated. … This deficient practice placed all residents currently residing in the facility in immediate jeopardy as it was likely to cause serious injury, harm, impairment or death.”
The report stated that after identifying a single new case of COVID-19 infection in any staff or residents, all staff and residents should be tested, and all staff and residents that tested negative should be retested every three to seven days until testing identified no new cases of COVID-19 infection among staff or residents for a period of at least 14 days since the most recent positive result.
The facility had four COVID-19 outbreaks since September 2020, according to the report. The most recent outbreak began Dec. 1 and continued until Feb. 8, stating that a total of 138 cases (74 residents and 64 staff) had been reported during that time.
According to a statement issued Thursday, April 1, the facility currently has no COVID cases among employees or residents.
“The issue was corrected immediately, and as documented this week, we have taken all appropriate steps to ensure that we continue meeting all requirements in the future as we have in the past,” according to the statement.
According to the report issued in February, on Feb. 8, the facility submitted an acceptable removal plan which stated that as of Feb. 1, the administrator and director of nursing/infection preventionist had been trained in the process of monitoring staff and testing by the director of quality assurance and that all staff would be educated on the testing requirements by Feb. 8.
After reviewing the facility’s information provided in their removal plan and verifying the immediate actions had been implemented, the scope/severity level of the complaint was lowered “to allow the facility time to monitor and/or reverse their corrective actions as necessary to achieve substantial compliance.”
According to the statement issued April 1, the facility has fulfilled the plan of correction required by the state order issued in February.
Robertsdale Rehabilitation and HealthCare Services is one of 10 facilities owned by Ball HealthCare Services based in Mobile.
According to a statement issued in February, the issue was the result of temporary staffing problems.
“We take all public health requirements seriously,” according to the statement issued through Direct Communications out of Birmingham. “We immediately corrected the issue and are taking all appropriate action to ensure we continue to meet all requirements.
“At Robertsdale Rehabilitation & HealthCare Center, our top priority is the safety of our residents and employees. Throughout this pandemic, our team of 132 employees worked diligently and successfully to reduce the risk of COVID infections within the facility.
“Our hearts go out to all of those who have been affected by the virus. The infections and the required quarantine periods created temporary staffing challenges that created significant issues for the employees working to provide care during that time. But we want to assure our residents and their families that we have taken all necessary steps to address those issues, and we are working closely with public health officials to make sure we are adhering to all state and federal guidelines.”