Four deaths at center probed for influenza | NevadaAppeal.com
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Four deaths at center probed for influenza

by Susie Vasquez

Doug McCoy, regional operations manager for Evergreen Health said four deaths from Evergreen Mountain View Health Care are being investigated by the Nevada State Health Division as potentially flu-related. The rest of the deaths were not suspect.

“We’ve have been working very closely with the Department of Health to determine the cause of the illness here at the facility, but to date, we haven’t had a confirmed case of influenza,” he said.

Ruth Beseler, coroner for the Carson City Sheriff’s Department said six people died at Mountain View on Tuesday. When she contacted Evergreen officials, they had already reported the problem to the Health Division.

“These weren’t suspicious deaths,” Beseler said. “It certainly looks like the facility is doing what they need to be doing.”

She said four patients from Evergreen Mountain View have been admitted to Carson-Tahoe Hospital and of those, three cultures came back positive for strep, a bacterial infection.

Another two patients died there Thursday, but both were attributed to previously-diagnosed conditions and not influenza, Beseler said.

McCoy said he didn’t know whether the patients who died had been immunized with the flu vaccine, but both flu and pneumococcal vaccines are offered free of charge at Evergreen Mountain View and are administered at the behest of the patient or guardian.

Nevada Health Division Epidemiologist Dr. Randall Todd would not confirm the origin of the cases being investigated, but he did say influenza had been ruled out in two of the six suspected cases.

Todd told the Associated Press that the division is reviewing six deaths Tuesday at the elderly care center on Koontz Lane in Carson City. Todd is trying to confirm the cause of the deaths, and the agency’s Bureau of Licensure and Certification will determine whether the facility was operating properly.

He emphasized that this year’s strain is strong and he’s expecting at least 350 flu-related deaths in Nevada.

Bud Rieckoff, administrator of Carson Convalescent Center said most of his patients receive flu shots and there have been no special problems this year.

“It’s company policy,” he said. “We also have a very good clinical staff and when people start getting sick, they administer a lot of fluids.

“You have to remember, these people are very susceptible,” he said.

Debbie Parziale, administrator at Evergreen’s Ormsby Boulevard center, said they’ve been admitting short-term patients from Carson-Tahoe Hospital, and those patients are convalescing from bouts with pneumonia.

She said flu and pneumococcal immunizations were administered in early October to just about everyone, the exception being those allergic to the eggs used in the vaccine.

“Nursing homes are mandated federally to offer the vaccines,” she said. “Airborne organisms are easy to contract in a communal setting like this and it’s important to take these measures before anything hits.

“I encourage everyone in the community to get vaccinated,” she said.

The state health division said supplies are short. People wishing to get a vaccination should call their doctor. Public health supplies have been depleted. Efforts to obtain additional vaccine continue.

Contact Susie Vasquez at svasquez@nevadaappeal.com or at 881-1212.