Poet’s Seat Health Care Center closed to visitors to keep residents safe from flu, viruses

  • Poet’s Seat Health Care Center at 359 High St. in Greenfield has closed to all visitors indefinitely to prevent any types of flu or virus from spreading to its residents. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Poet’s Seat Health Care Center at 359 High St. in Greenfield has closed to all visitors indefinitely to prevent any types of flu or virus from spreading to its residents. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 1/24/2020 9:31:30 PM
Modified: 1/24/2020 9:31:17 PM

GREENFIELD — The owner of Poet’s Seat Health Care Center on High Street says he has closed the center’s doors to all visitors indefinitely to prevent any types of flu or virus from spreading to its residents.

Sean Carney, owner and operator of the skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility, said it had two cases of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, recently, and doesn’t want to take any chances. He said one person ended up in the hospital and the other was treated at Poet’s Seat.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Most people recover in a week or two, but the virus can be serious, especially for infants and older adults.

The virus is the most common cause of bronchiolitis, inflammation of the small airways in the lung, and pneumonia, infection of the lungs, in children younger than 1 year of age in the United States. It is also a significant cause of respiratory illness in older adults, and can be life-threatening.

“We’re proud to be cautious,” Carney said. “We’ve been symptom-free for 14 days, but there’s no date for opening back up to visitors, yet. This is a self-imposed closure, a preventative measure. It’s the season for these types of illnesses.”

Carney said above all, he is concerned with patient and staff safety. He said the residents of Poet’s Seat are the most vulnerable of the population — the average age of residents is 86.

“We’re going to do all we possibly can to protect our residents as the flu and other viruses arrive,” he said.

Carney said he’d love to have a date set to end the closure, but isn’t ready to pick one, yet.

“I’m on the phone with the hospital and residents’ families,” he said. “I’m here every other day. We sent a letter to families explaining our decision.”

Carney said residents are FaceTiming and Skyping to communicate with loved ones. He said the facility is doing more in-room activities, so that residents aren’t exposed to each other, just in case. Residents seem to be happy, he said, and aren’t complaining.

“Other than the closure, it’s business as usual,” he said.

Carney said Poet’s Seat is not taking any new residents at this point, either. He said he doesn’t want to bring anything into the facility. A sign on the front door tells visitors they are not allowed in.

Ashley LeBeau, administrator at Charlene Manor Extended Care on Colrain Road, just a few miles from Poet’s Seat, said the facility has been lucky because it hasn’t had any positive flu cases and has not taken any drastic measures to prevent such cases.

“Each facility makes its own decisions,” she said. “We’ve posted notices to let people know to be careful and not visit if they’re not feeling well.”

LeBeau said there are gloves, masks and extra hand sanitizer available for staff and visitors. She said notices ask that people notify the facility if they suspect they have carried a virus in during a visit.

“Respiratory illnesses are pretty prevalent in this area right now,” she said. “Especially upper respiratory illnesses. But it’s not typically part of our protocol to close Charlene to visitors. Actually, we’ve never done that here. Even not accepting new admissions is very rare for us.”

LeBeau said Charlene Manor follows Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines in these matters. She said staff will move someone to a private room if they get sick, and won’t put anyone at risk. If a resident does get sick, he or she will have therapy, meals, etc., in their room until they’re well.

Nursing facilities are required to offer the flu vaccination to all residents, but residents or their care proxies have the right to refuse, so it is administered on a case-by-case basis.

The administrator at Buckley HealthCare Center on Laurel Street could not be reached for comment by press time, so it is not clear whether it is currently dealing with or has dealt with these types of illnesses over the past month, and if so, how it has handled the situation.

Reach Anita Fritz at
413-772-0261, ext. 269 or afritz@recorder.com.


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