Three more patients at the state’s Mary Starke Harper Geriatric Psychiatric Center have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to eight.
Two nurses at the facility have also tested positive for the virus, and tests are pending for other patients.
The Alabama Department of Mental Health learned Thursday of the latest confirmed cases of coronavirus in two of four units at the hospital, said ADMH spokeswoman Malissa Valdes-Hubert in a message to APR on Friday.
Those 8 patients are being treated at DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa, and an additional Harper Center patient with pneumonia is being treated at the hospital and is awaiting coronavirus test results, Valdes-Hubert said.
Six additional patients at the Harper Center are also awaiting test results, Valdes-Hubert said. The Harper Center cares for elderly patients who are at more risk of serious complications and death from the virus.
After learning of the sixth new COVID-19 case among Harper Center patients on Thursday, ADMH officials met with the Alabama Department of Public Health and decided to begin widespread testing of patients and staff in two of the four units at the facility, which began Friday morning, Valdes-Hubert said.
ADMH stopped new admissions and visitations to the state’s mental health facilities in mid-March, and staff are being checked for elevated temperatures and screened for other symptoms at the start of each shift, Valdes-Hubert said.
“Any person found with symptoms is quarantined until a negative test is returned. All staff wear FDA approved masks. We are stocked well with PPE,” Valdes-Hubert said in the message.
ADMH also operates two other facilities in Tuscaloosa, Bryce Hospital and the Taylor Hardin Secure Medical Facility. There have been no confirmed COVID-19 cases in those hospitals, Valdes-Hubert said.