Nazareth Home – Clifton battles virus

A statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is seen on the grounds of Nazareth Home – Clifton, which has had a spike in cases of COVID-19 among residents and staff. (Record Photo by Marnie McAllister)

The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth are asking for prayers as residents and staff of their nursing home, Nazareth Home — Clifton, battle COVID-19.

“All of us Sisters of Charity of Nazareth hold the residents, staff and families, in all of our ministries worldwide, in prayer, and now, most especially those at Nazareth Home Clifton,” said Sister Sharon Gray, provincial. “We pray that we all strive to walk this journey of suffering and healing with compassion.  We have been given the gift of one another, and we hold that gift with tenderness, gratitude and great care.”

Thirty-nine residents of the Payne Street facility, which had 82 residents at the beginning of the pandemic, have been transferred to area hospitals after testing positive for the virus late last week, said spokesperson Diane Curtis in a phone interview May 26. Two residents have died and 26 employees of the facility have tested positive.

Residents and staff of the facility were tested for COVID-19 on May 20 after a variety of unusual symptoms cropped up, Curtis said. While the symptoms weren’t typical of COVID-19, “We decided to get the whole facility tested,” she said.

Residents were initially quarantined in “neighborhoods” in the home and then began to be transferred to local hospitals, including Baptist East, Norton Brownsboro, Norton Audubon, and Jewish, Curtis said.

“As the number of employees testing positive continued to increase over the weekend, we made the decision to transfer residents to hospitals.”

The last of the residents who tested positive were transferred to hospitals May 25, she said.

“We wanted to be very, very cautious. It was a combination of the sheer number of residents who tested positive, combined with the number of staff (who tested positive).”

Among those who tested positive and were transferred to hospitals are Ursuline Sisters of Louisville. Some sisters also tested negative and remain at the home, according to a statement from the sisters.

Ursuline Sister Janet M. Peterworth, president of the Ursulines, said the situation “underscores just how serious this virus is and the need for continued vigilance with safety and health precautions.”

While the Ursuline Sisters are saddened and concerned,  she said, “We remain convinced that Nazareth Home – Clifton’s administrator and team have been, and are doing, all that is within their power to care for residents during this most challenging time. Please keep these sisters and all the residents and staff of the nursing home in your prayers.”

The Sisters of Charity Nazareth also operate Nazareth Home in the Highlands on Newburg road. Both facilities are home to women religious and priests, as well as lay people.

Earlier in the pandemic the Highlands home reported  two positive cases among residents, two staff cases and one death. The facility is scheduled to be fully tested on June 1, said Curtis.

Both homes went on lock down more than two months ago, Curtis said.

Mary Haynes, administrator of the homes, said “prayer and acts of love help bridge the gap” for residents who are isolated during the pandemic.

“We have been encouraging video calls, phone calls, snail mail, photo albums with photos of every day life right now and window visits,” she said. “We have also seen virtual prayer groups and streaming Mass together and discussing and praying together by phone or FaceTime.”

The provincial of the Sisters of Charity of Nazaerth, Sister Sharon Gray, noted, the importance of prayer during the pandemic.

“At this time of a national and worldwide pandemic the need for prayer is so evident.  Reliance on the presence of a loving God who walks with us during times of uncertainty is indeed our stronghold.”

According to data from the Kentucky Department for Public Health, as of May 23 105 long-Term Care Facilities in Kentucky had  a total of 1,130 COVID-19 positive residents, with 215 resident deaths. There have been 526 staff test positive and 2 staff deaths.

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