Federal strike team deployed to Essex Center for coronavirus outbreak

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ELIZABETHTOWN, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Following weeks of an ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) sent a federal task force strike team to the Essex Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing on Monday.

Task force teams are comprised of clinicians and public health officials and focus on preventing coronavirus transmission into and through facilities, detecting cases early, and helping staff manage cases when they do arise.

Centers Health Care spokesperson Jeff Jacomowitz said that the team at the Essex Center consisted of a pharmacist who said he was a doctor, along with two others. They only visited the center on Monday, with no plan to return.

The team trained center staff on the use of the BD Veritor testing system, a rapid detection device used for identifying coronavirus cases. The facility is not actively relying on the machine at this time. The center also received a point-of-care antigen testing machine from CMS, but has not yet gotten training on its use.

Jacomowitz said no changes were being made as a result of the visit, and no recommendations were given.

NY-21 Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, said in a release that her office had advocated for the team to come to the center.

“In response to identifying testing as a serious issue, I highlighted the need for rapid tests and HHS sent hundreds of rapid tests to the facility,” Stefanik wrote. “After my conversations with (CMS Administrator Seema Verma) today’s announcement of a Strike Team being sent to Essex Center is an important continuation of this response and I thank President Trump and Administrator Verma for their assistance.”

Jacomowitz said the visit was not requested by Essex Center.

Also this week, Centers Health Care moved the majority of coronavirus testing in-house at Essex Center.

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