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Gastonia nursing home recovers following major COVID-19 cluster

Brian Center of Gastonia had 111 COVID-19 cases and 10 deaths this summer.

GASTONIA, N.C. — Brian Center Health and Rehabilitation in Gastonia is reflecting on its recovery since, at one point, having the highest COVID-19 case count of any nursing home in Gaston County.

According to North Carolina DHHS, 111 people tested positive for COVID-19 at the facility, which is located off Cox Road near CaroMont Regional Medical Center. Of the people who tested positive, 10 people died due to the virus.

The facility was first listed on DHHS' COVID-19 cluster report in early-July, but it was removed from the list in August.

Both SavaSenior Care, which runs Brian Center, and Gaston County DHHS said the deep community spread of COVID-19 likely resulted in a staff member bringing the virus into the building.

Annaliese Impink, SavaSeniorCare's chief experience officer, said the staff focused on simple infection control tasks to reduce the virus' spread.

"The importance of handwashing, as simple as it seems; making sure that people are focused on hand hygiene; people are focused on cloth etiquette; teaching people how to wear their PPE properly," Impink said. "We've always been focused on infection control, but we've never had to deal with a virus of this magnitude."

She said because of COVID-19's virulent nature, Brian Center managers pushed their staff to follow infection control measures as closely as possible with no shortcuts allowed.

According to Brian Center's Medicare profile, the center has a five-star rating and no infection control violations in the last three years.

However, its staffing rating is listed as below average.

While Impink acknowledged the virus made it challenging to fill positions, she insisted they're doing everything they can to take care of Brian Center residents.

"Our staff is working extremely, extremely hard to try to do the best we can to protect our residents," Impink said.