WILTON — As state leaders look to gradually reopen Connecticut in the coming weeks, nursing homes across the state, including Wilton Meadows Rehabilitation and Health Care Center, are being inspected in efforts to slow down the spread of COVID-19.

Statewide, as of May 6, there were 1,627 lab-confirmed and probable deaths linked to the coronavirus among nursing home patients, accounting for nearly 60 percent of the state’s 2,718 COVID-19 deaths at that time.

A report issued by the state last Thursday shows Wilton Meadows, with 148 beds, had eight residents with laboratory confirmed COVID-19, with seven deaths from the virus and 15 probable deaths as of May 6.

Riverside Health & Rehabilitation in East Hartford, with 345 beds, had the most fatalities, with 47, according to the report.

In Wilton, there have been 180 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with 31 deaths reported by the state, as of May 11. The ages for those who have died ranged from 69 to 96, according to First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice.

Wilton Meadows is the only nursing home in Wilton. Other group facilities in town with an elderly or disabled population are:

 Brookdale Senior Living, an assisted-living facility.

 The Greens at Cannondale, an assisted-living facility.

 Sunrise of Wilton, an assisted-living facility.

 Wilton Commons, an independent-living and congregate-care facility.

 Ogden House, an independent housing community.

Of those facilities, only Brookdale Senior Living has had no reports of the coronavirus, according to its Executive Director Adnan Tahirovic.

“Brookdale remains focused on prevention. We have a corporate emergency response team in place to provide support to the local teams, especially in the event of a confirmed case of COVID-19,” according to a statement on Brookdale’s website.

Wilton Meadows/The Greens

Testing is the name of the game on the Danbury Road campus shared by Wilton Meadows and The Greens at Cannondale.

Following outbreaks over the past few weeks, both facilities are in the process of testing 100 percent of their residents and staff. “We expect to have results to report early next week,” said Ron Bucci, senior executive director of The Greens.

There have been 11 positive cases of COVID-19 reported at The Greens, (two asymptomatic cases), and two COVID-related deaths, according to Bucci.

There are currently no staff members at work at The Greens who are symptomatic or positive, he said. Quite a few workers, however, have been home quarantined for either symptoms or for coming in close contact with a symptomatic resident, he added.

At Wilton Meadows, in addition to the eight residents reported with COVID-19, 17 staff members have also tested positive for the virus according to Ellen Casey, administrator at Wilton Meadows. “We have had no staff deaths, and currently none at work who are symptomatic or positive,” she said.

The Greens and Wilton Meadows are working cooperatively, with some COVID patients from The Greens receiving treatment at Wilton Meadows.

On April 24, the state’s Department of Public Health (DPH) performed an in-depth COVID-19 Focused Infection Control Survey at nursing homes across the state, including Wilton Meadows.

The survey included reviews of the nursing home’s triage practices, cleaning and hygiene procedures, personal protective equipment (PPE), and transmission-based precautions.

Wilton Meadows received no deficiencies or recommendations from the surveyor, who was complimentary of the nursing home’s practices, according to Casey.

She said testing will help stop the spread of the virus by identifying asymptomatic residents and staff. “We can appropriately allocate PPE and ensure we are clustering those with the virus in separate areas from those who do not have the virus,” she said.

Once resident and staff testing results are in, Casey expects to uncover more cases of the virus.

“We must prepare for an increase in our number of cases of COVID-positive patients and staff. Research has shown that approximately 50 percent of asymptomatic nursing home residents test positive for the virus. When the numbers increase, it may seem like we don’t have things under control but DPH has assured us we do have all control measures in place, and we will continue to do so,” she said.

Control measures in place for The Greens and Wilton Meadows include clustering or co-horting of residents by COVID status, dedicating staff based on COVID status, universal masking for residents and staff, and adequate and appropriate use of PPE.

“Frail and elderly individuals bear a disproportionate burden of morbidity and mortality among those infected. It is worth noting that many residents whom we have lost on our campus were either already receiving hospice services or approaching end-of-life care planning before the pandemic began,” Bucci said.

Sunrise of Wilton

At Sunrise of Wilton, there has been one reported death of a resident from COVID-19, and three staffers who tested positive as of May 5, according to Wilton Health Director Barry Bogle.

“Sunrise has an infection control program in place designed to protect residents and fight the spread of the virus,” said April Johnson, regional vice president of operations for Sunrise.

Measures taken at Sunrise include providing PPE, prohibiting non-essential visitors, implementing screening protocols to identify potential illness symptoms, restricting new resident move-ins, and ceasing communal dining and serving meals in each resident’s suite in order to promote social distancing.

“We are taking each and every presumptive and confirmed case extremely seriously,” Johnson said.

Since the COVID outbreak, Sunrise has also hired professional cleaning services to manage sanitation of the building, and added nurses and support teams.

“Our team is working to maintain as much normalcy as possible for our residents and families despite this situation,” Johnson said.

Wilton Commons

Wilton Commons reports two cases of COVID-19 among its residents.

The cases occurred at different times, according to Renee Dobos, CEO of Connecticut Housing Partners, which operates Wilton Commons.

She said there have been no staff members affected as of now. “Social distancing and cleaning are making a difference,” she said.

To maintain social distancing, the Wilton Commons facility is closed to the public and staff are staying out of units unless needed.

Dobos said the property manager is present one day a week, and at this time only emergency work orders are being carried out. “We’ve had to cancel programs. It is so stressful to everyone on so many levels,” she said.

Ogden House

There have been two cases of COVID-19 reported at Ogden House.

One case affected a resident who was staying in the facility at the time. The other case affected a resident who was in a skilled nursing facility at the time of COVID contraction, according to Tammy Lautz, director of property management at Ogden House.

As a safety precaution, community-wide activities were shut down at Ogden House on March 12.

“We stopped social gatherings in order to get ahead of it,” Lautz said.

She said state Senator Tony Hwang (R-28) provided a large donation of masks to Ogden House for which the staff and residents were appreciative.

A state report on assisted-living facilities is expected to be forthcoming.

pgay@wiltonbulletin.com