April 28, 2020
– School nurses and members of the ServSTEUBEN Medical Reserve Corps volunteered their services to complete comprehensive testing of staff and residents of Elderwood at Hornell in April. County Public Health officials stated that without the volunteer nurses, testing would not have been possible as the New York State Department of health did not respond to the county’s plea for universal testing.
“With cases increasing across Steuben County, we saw clusters in nursing homes. In an effort to identify all current cases of COVID-19 in the Elderwood at Hornell facility, we felt it was imperative to have all staff and residents tested,” said Public Health Director, Darlene Smith. “We have a very small department, so we could not complete the testing with our own staff. We are beyond thankful to have these amazing school nurses who jumped at the chance to help out.”
“This is an uplifting story of how community members come together during trying times, and it’s important to highlight these contributions,” said County Manager Jack Wheeler. “All it took was one phone call to our school nurses, and they immediately replied – ‘We’re in. When do you need us?’ On behalf of the County Legislature, we sincerely thank them for their help, and we will be forever grateful.”
The volunteer nurses tested approximately 250 residents and staff in less than two business days. Testing was completed with the collaboration of Elderwood, St. James Hospital, and the URMC laboratory, and resulted in finding an additional six cases. The identification of all positive individuals aided in the nursing home taking extra precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19.
County officials extend their sincere gratitude to the nurses who offered their help to save lives: Stacey Belanger, Katrina Blencowe, Hannah Davis, Dana Dickson, Karen Dgien, Sarah Obrochta, and Gay Weaver.