5 dead at Wrentham nursing home as town works to contain outbreak

WRENTHAM, Mass. — Five residents at the Maples Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Wrentham died from COVID-19 related complications and dozens more were infected in recent weeks, the facility said Thursday.

The five deaths have all been reported since Sept. 14, according to Wrentham Town Administrator Kevin Sweet.

The 144-bed nursing facility has been battling an outbreak since last month, reporting 100 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

Twenty-eight residents and staffers are currently infected with the virus, according to the facility’s website.

“Unfortunately, despite our tireless efforts, the virus reappeared in late August,” Administrator Jodi Pflum said in a statement.

The outbreak at Maples single-handedly bumped the Town of Wrentham up to the “high risk” category on the Department of Public Health’s community-level risk assessment map, Sweet said.

Pflum said they are closely monitoring residents for signs of illness and screening all essential employees entering the building. Outside visits are suspended.

Sweet believes the number of positive tests at the facility will increase.

“We’re concerned now with the retesting and the potential of those negatives becoming positives and will increase the number as well,” Sweet said.

The pandemic has disproportionately punished Massachusetts long-term care facilities, according to data from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Nearly two-thirds of Massachusetts COVID-19 related deaths—5,928—have come out of long-term care facilities.

Of the state’s total number of COVID-19 cases, 24,470 have been either residents or staffers at long-term care facilities.

“We know from the studies of COVID that older individuals do more poorly, they get more severe diseases and unfortunately, have a greater risk of passing away,” said Dr. Helen Boucher, Chief of Infectious Diseases at Tufts Medical Center.

Once the virus is inside one of those facilities, it’s literally a life or death battle.

“The measures that we know about do work,” Dr. Boucher said. “It’s isolation. We want to isolate people who are infected and do very thorough contact tracing to make sure we find every individual who might be infected.”

Pflum said the facility was virus-free for three months. She did not say where this latest outbreak originated.

“We maintain close contact with family members and keep them regularly updated, and we appreciate all of our employees' efforts in providing high-quality care during this challenging time,” Pflum said in her statement.

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