KINGMAN — Bullhead City’s COVID-19 hotspot, the Joshua Springs Senior Living facility, was the focus of much of Thursday’s special Mohave County Board of Supervisors meeting in Kingman.
Sup. Hildy Angius, whose district includes Bullhead City, said her constituents have raised lots of questions since it became known that some deaths and at least 18 coronavirus infections trace to the long-term care facility.
Angius conveyed that many believe the county and its health department should have been more proactive earlier when the outbreak was first detected at Joshua Springs. Deputy Mohave County attorney Ryan Esplin said that the Arizona Department of Health Services has regulatory and licensing authority over the long-term health care industry.
Department of Public Health Nursing Division Manager Lynne Valentine noted the role of Mohave County is to provide assistance and guidance and serve as a support resource when requested by nursing homes. Joshua Springs did ask for county help.
“We continue to work with that facility to provide resources. They have submitted resource requests for PPE (personal protective equipment), which I believe we are filling,” Health Director Denise Burley said. “We are also working directly with their staff and any positive patients. Actually, they are dealing directly with the patients and we’re working with any staff that are positive.”
Burley said coronavirus testing of patients and staff at Joshua Springs was expected to be completed sometime by Friday. Valentine said county staff members are helping the facility with infection case investigation and can also help provide guidance and education where requested.
Angius said she learned a lot over the last week as discussion has heated up over Joshua Springs and other long term care providers.
“Some of these facilities may not be as prepared as we would like them to be,” she said.
Angius said some believe the county should require that facilities have plans in place to handle viral outbreaks.
Valentine reiterated the county provides support but no enforcement role in the long-term care arena.
“We are not going in an authoritative role,” she said, noting they instead will help if asked. “Our overall goal is to slow the spread within the facility.”
Angius gave the county health department praise of its performance during the pandemic and also gave credit to Watermark Retirement Communities, the owner of Joshua Springs, for its transparency after the initial cases were reported at the Bullhead City facility.
The Desert Highlands Care Center, in Kingman, was the first COVID-19 hot spot identified in Mohave County. Burley said Thursday that there are outbreaks in at least five facilities in the county, at least one in each of the three primary municipalities.
Other information conveyed during Thursday’s meeting is that fewer than five coronavirus cases have been documented in Laughlin — the Nevada Department of and two others in Needles. And the number of infected cases considered recovered now total 98 in the county.
In answer to a question from Sup. Buster Johnson, Burley said the county has documented 1,100 influenza cases during this year’s flu season. She did not reveal if there had been any deaths attributed to the flu.