Preventative COVID-19 testing at nursing home, 1 person positive

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Presenting a media briefing during Prairie Maison’s mass COVID-19 testing were (from left) Crawford County Health Officer Cindy Riniker, Crawford County COVID-19 Public Information Officer Marc Myhre, City Administrator Chad Abram and Wisconsin National Guard Cpt. David Eischen. Also there (but off camera) was Community Health Services Corp. Executive Director Rita Moore. (Photo by Correne Martin)

By Correne Martin


About 200 residents and staff at Prairie Maison Nursing Home and Bluff Haven Assisted Living were tested for the coronavirus one week ago, on May 20. The mass testing was not to contain an outbreak, but to prevent one at the Prairie du Chien facility, according to Crawford County Public Health.

As a result, one resident tested positive, according to Community Health Services Corporation (CHSC) Executive Director Rita Moore. The resident is asymptomatic, she noted.

“That individual was immediately quarantined with a care team assigned directly to that individual. All other residents and staff were negative,” Moore stated. “The spread of this disease into our community is another example of the pernicious nature of this virus and in no way reflects the quality of care provided in our facilities.”

The Crawford County Health Department is aware of the positive result and is advising CHSC with proper Centers for Disease Control procedures. 

Moore said the company is taking every step as recommended to contain the spread.

“We want to make residents, their families, and our dedicated staff aware of this situation and reassure everyone that we are on top of it,” she said.

During a media briefing on site last Wednesday, Marc Myhre, county COVID-19 public information officer, emphasized that the testing was a precautionary measure. 

The testing aligned with statewide efforts to protect the most susceptible populations from contracting the virus, according to county health officer Cindy Riniker.

Only five residents of the around 100 on the CHSC campus had been previously given the test for COVID-19—as a precaution after a visit to the hospital or being newly admitted to Prairie Maison or Bluff Haven.

One of many Wisconsin National Guard Specimen Collection Units conducted the May 20 testing, which started at 8 a.m. By the 11 a.m. media briefing, Cpt. David Eischen believed about 75-80 percent to be done. 

“Two to three service members [worked] with each individual, and the health department assisted,” Eischen noted. 

“The residents did really well,” added Moore.

City Administrator Chad Abram and the Prairie du Chien Police Department had a presence on site, to provide traffic control and assist where needed. Abram said the purpose of numerous entities coming together was to ensure the testing was a “joint effort, similar to (the testing at) Prairie Industries” May 5.

Still, no outside visitors are allowed at Prairie Maison or Bluff Haven, as part of the state’s COVID-19 safety recommendations and governor’s Bounce Back Plan.

Moore recognized that coronavirus developments change day to day. 

“Our focus remains on the health and well-being of our community. We must also recognize our team for the concern and commitment they have shown to our residents during this challenging time,” Moore said. “Our mission has never been more meaningful.”

Residents and staff will continue to follow CDC health and safety guidelines moving forward.

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