Marshwood Center in Lewiston Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — Eight residents and three staff members tested positive for COVID-19 this week at Marshwood Center, the troubled Lewiston long-term care facility. All residents and staff are expected to be retested Friday.

Marshwood has about 80 residents and 125 staff members.

Marshwood discovered its first positive resident Monday, according to Richard Feifer, chief medical officer for Genesis Healthcare, the Pennsylvania for-profit company that owns Marshwood. All staff and residents were tested Tuesday.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention learned of the outbreak Thursday afternoon, shortly before its regular COVID-19 news briefing.

“We are at the earliest of the earliest stages of our investigation,” CDC Director Nirav Shah said during the briefing.

CDC spokesman Robert Long said testing was done in a nongovernmental lab and the CDC received the results Thursday. He said turnaround time — testing Tuesday, results received Thursday — is similar to the turnaround time at the Maine Health and Environmental Testing Lab, a government lab.

Marshwood’s 11 positive cases were not included in Thursday’s official statewide case count. They will be included in Friday’s numbers.

Long said Marshwood administrators had been in contact with the CDC to work on a proactive testing program before the first case was confirmed. Feifer outlined the other precautions Marshwood has been taking, including screening residents for symptoms three times a day, screening and taking the temperatures of staff when they enter the building, and restricting visitors.

“During this pandemic, we have been stringent with restrictions and a whole host of other precautions,” he said via email. “As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services began providing protocols and guidelines for the coronavirus, we have diligently followed them and, in many cases, have gotten out in front of public health guidelines, adopting even more stringent infection precautions than were recommended at the time. We also continue to follow the direction of the Maine Department of Health in an effort to contain and minimize the spread of the virus.”

Marshwood has a history of problems with patient safety, personal and medical care, sanitation and staffing. Marshwood was named a “special focus facility” and regulators put it on notice late last year that it needed to improve. The nursing home’s problems remained so serious that earlier this year state officials asked the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to stop paying for new patients to stay there if the issues didn’t quickly get better, but the federal government placed nearly all such sanctions on hold in the wake of COVID-19.


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