Families worry as Stoughton nursing home takes in recovered COVID-19 patients

Published: Apr. 17, 2020 at 4:10 PM CDT
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Skaalen Nursing and Rehabilitation Center is providing short term care for two patients recovering from COVID-19.

Kris Krentz, the CEO of Skaalen Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, says they are a couple with ties to the Stoughton community.

“They are recovered and they are here for short term rehabilitation,” said Krentz. “They are not exhibiting any symptoms at all. They are just here to get stronger and go home.”

The staff at Skaalen are monitoring the couple for signs and symptoms but they are asymptomatic so far.

Steven Lund says his 97-year-old father Williard Lund is a resident at Skaalen Nursing and has received care there for about eight years.

Lund says it’s a scary situation for his family.

“We love our father and we want to keep him safe and that’s what we thought we were doing by having him there,” said Lund. “We are afraid and he may get sick and we may lose him.”

Lund adds he is concerned for his father who understands what’s going on.

“He is worried, very worried,” Lund said. “We’re not sure exactly how to resolve this.”

Rob Buntz says his father in law is sharp, even in his late 90s.

"He is such a wonderful fellow," said Buntz. "I wouldn't want to see his life cut short because kind of ridiculous like this."

Another woman tells NBC15 her mother is a resident at Skaalen and shares similar concerns.

“I would look for some other option than bringing people into nursing homes until we are absolutely confident that we know how to prevent this from spreading,” she said.

She recognizes that recovered patients may also need care, but feels there should be a different solution.

“They are caught between a rock and a hard place and they’re willing to take a risk, but the risk is potentially at the expense of our loved ones,” she added.

Krentz says when the pandemic first began the care facility state up a quarantined unit.

“One of the recommendations coming out was to have a quarantined area just for the impending surge,” said Krentz. “We didn’t know what to expect so we created one early on for quarantine patients that’s far away from common areas.”

He says the staff created this in the event they had to move their own residents into isolation.

Krentz says they’ve received several referrals of this nature in the past few weeks.

“We’ve received many, many referrals for positive patients but they’ve all been unstable up until now,” said Krentz.

John Sauer, with LeadingAge Wisconsin, recognizes the decision might not be a popular one but necessary to help those recovering.

“We can’t just turn our back on our own who have contracted the virus,” said Sauer. “People need care.”

Statewide, Sauer says there are at least a dozen other nursing care facilities discussing the possibility of taking in recovered COVD-19 patients in an isolated, quarantined unit.

“It’s an evolving situation,” said Sauer. “It depends on community need.”

Krentz says because Skaalen is a healthcare facility it will continue to help provide care where they can.

“We serve the community,” said Krentz. “We need to help the hospitals out whenever we can and that is the expectation.”

Both families who spoke with NBC15 say they are looking into other options for their loved ones who are residents outside of Skaalen nursing.