Carmel mayor urges senior care facilities to test employees

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CARMEL, Ind. — On Tuesday, Indiana State Department of Health said 22 residents in three different counties died due to suspected COVID-19 infections. That includes 11 people at Bethany Pointe in Anderson. There is a strong push in Carmel to keep this from happening there.

“We don’t want to see it happen in Carmel,” said Mayor Jim Brainard. “We don’t want to see it happen anywhere.”

Mayor Brainard wants to protect one of the most vulnerable populations in his community. That is why last week he sent a letter to 20 nursing homes and senior living facilities. After consulting with medical practitioners and hospitals, he recommended that employees be tested weekly.

“If we are able to discover staff members at elder care facilities that are carrying the virus, then we can quarantine them then we can test the residents in those facilities,” he said.

In his letter, he told them about a company on Indianapolis’ northwest side who will provide those tests. Aria Diagnostics said more than 10 Carmel facilities have scheduled appointments.

Cash pay cost for a test is $175.

Mayor Brainard claimed at least one facility initially refused testing.

“I think that is tremendously negligent and maybe even criminal,” he said.

He said he sent the facility a strongly worded letter on Monday. Here is part of his letter.

“I do not have the authority to order you to do testing. I do believe, however, that failure to test your staff on a weekly basis now that tests are readily available constitutes extreme negligence as well as putting you personally at risk for reckless homicide if someone dies as a result of you not testing your staff. Reckless homicide carries a prison term. In general, recklessness refers to actions where a person is aware of, but ignores, a substantial and unjustifiable risk of serious injury to another. The risk must be so great and apparent that to ignore it constitutes a major shift from the standard of care a normal person would exercise under the circumstances.

Aria Diagnostics explained that facility called the company Tuesday morning to schedule an appointment.

“We are just scared for the elderly folks in those communities we have got to protect them and test everybody,” said Zak Khan, partner of Aria Diagnostics.

Khan said a nurse and two medical assistants will test the workers at the facilities.

He said some of the senior care facilities request to pay through their insurance companies.

“If you have a patient who has tested positive then we should test all of the patients as well,” Khan said.

Aria Diagnostics is also providing tests to Carmel first responders and city employees. The company believes it has administered about 2,000 tests in all.

Right now, the lab can conduct about 250 tests a day. As of Tuesday, results can come back anywhere from 24 to 48 hours.

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