PB nursing home expects to lift quarantine soon

A quarantine that started more than two weeks ago at Trinity Village Medical Center Nursing Home in Pine Bluff is expected to be lifted by Wednesday morning, an official said Monday.

Donna S. Stone, executive director of the Trinity Village Inc. complex at 6400 Trinity Drive, said a norovirus outbreak in the 80-bed nursing home is apparently nearing its end. Nursing home administrators ordered a quarantine early Sunday, Jan. 26. Stone said the quarantine followed staff members’ identification of “a pattern of stomach virus symptoms.”

Arkansas Department of Health spokesperson Kerry Krell said Monday that ADH inspectors had since found no deficiencies at the nursing home, which she said had been cooperative throughout ADH’s investigation.

Norovirus is primarily distributed through food contamination from fecal matter. Infected parties are secondary carriers. ADH epidemiologist and Communicable Diseases Medical Director Dr. Dirk Haselow said last week that a “large proportion” of Trinity Village’s patients and staffs had experienced gastroenteritis symptoms.

Stone had declined to give an exact number of norovirus cases at the nursing home, which was constructed in 1983. The facility has been closed to visitors since the quarantine was enacted.

The federal Centers for Disease Control said that the highly contagious norovirus is the world’s most common cause of gastroenteritis. The disorder typically leads to acute vomiting, nausea and watery, non-bloody diarrhea with abdominal cramps within 12 to 48 hours of a person being exposed. Norovirus can result in severe hydration, hospitalization and death, especially among young children, older adults and people with compromised immune systems.

Haselow said there is no specific treatment for the illness, which has occurred frequently on cruise ships but can happen in any type of common environment.

The best means of avoiding norovirus infection is frequent hand-washing with soap, and negating close contact with norovirus patients.

Krell said the outbreak has apparently been contained so that it hasn’t spread outside its original cluster. Food workers at the nursing home are currently providing two stool samples weekly to the ADH, which determines if the virus is active.

“The quarantine is primarily aimed at protecting visitors,” Krell said. “Norovirus is a nasty, really tough virus that sometimes appears.”

Stone said patients’ family members will be notified when the quarantine is lifted. Others wishing to visit patients on Wednesday should telephone the facility at 870-879-3117 before arriving.