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Community prays as COVID-19 invades Bucktail Medical Center

KEVIN RAUCH/THE EXPRESS Emotions ran high Sunday afternoon at a prayer vigil outside Bucktail Medical Center where dozens of residents and staff are suffering from COVID-19. Bucktail administrator Tim Reeves gave an update of the outbreak, saying there have been no new cases since Friday. Those attending the vigil were thrilled to be able to wave and say prayers outside the window of resident Jeannie Bressler, who happened to be looking out her window. Jeannie is a member of the extended family of Chuck and Kelly Nihart, seen at left waving to Jeannie.

RENOVO — It’s been a rough couple of weeks at the Bucktail Medical Center as COVID-19 has spread throughout the medical facility, infecting dozens of patients and staff to the extent that the U.S. Army National Guard was called in last week as support staff.

Bucktail administrator Tim Reeves, speaking at a prayer vigil Sunday afternoon outside the center, said three residents died since the outbreak and two of them were residents who tested positive.

“There have been no new cases since Friday,” Reeves said, offering a glimmer of hope that the worst might be over.

The outbreak began on Dec. 29 and 22 residents and 17 staff members tested positive since then, Reeves said. There were 13 residents testing positive on the very first day, and they were immediately quarantined to their own rooms.

As far as staff goes, Reeves said two of those testing positive had to be hospitalized.

Reeves said the Guard was called to assist and support staff at the medical center and included a licensed nurse, several medics and several “general purpose” workers to assist with housekeeping, maintenance and other work. They remained all last week, he said.

Also, Reeves said the center has contracted with the state Department of Health to secure people to work while staff is ill.

All infected residents are receiving care in the “red” zone of the facility, Reeves said. The “red,” yellow” and “green” zones are in separate hallways, he explained.

Reeves said Bucktail Medical Center has been able to secure a supply of bamlanivimab, a monoclonal antibody for COVID-19 that is being administered to positive residents who wanted the treatment. He described the antibodies as laboratory produced molecules that act as substitute antibodies that can restore, enhance or mimic the immune system’s attack on cells. The cloned antibodies are administered interveniously, he said.

About a dozen people turned out for Sunday’s vigil, some waving to residents inside the medical center through the windows.

One of them was Jeannie Bressler who happened to be looking out the window as the vigil was held. She is part of the extended family of Chuck and Kelly Nihart, who were at the vigil and smiled and waved to Jeannie, who is quarantined in her room.

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