Jackson County’s judge-executive apologizes for mis-directed criticism

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(UPDATE) Thursday, April 23 at 4:49 p.m.

JACKSON COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – Jackson County’s judge-executive issued a public apology on Thursday, saying he misspoke during an interview the day before when he was critical of the Kentucky Department of Public Health and its response to a coronavirus outbreak at a local nursing home.

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During an interview Wednesday with ABC 36 News, Judge-Executive Shane Gabbard expressed his frustration with the state department of public health for apparently not being aware of a COVID-19 outbreak at Jackson Manor nursing home in Annville.

Of the 56 confirmed cases in the county, 51 of them are from the nursing home where four residents have died from the virus, according to the Cumberland Valley District Health Department.  The nursing home quickly developed into one of the state’s virus hot spots, jumping from three cases to forty in one day.

Late Thursday afternoon, Judge Gabbard released an apology:

“In my interview yesterday I mentioned that I did not understand how the Kentucky Department of Health could not know how many cases of Coronavirus we had because of the problem of securing a ventilator for our ambulance. The organization that I was referring to was the Kentucky Board Of Emergency Services, not the Kentucky Department of Health. The Kentucky Board Of Emergency Services handles the requests for equipment for ambulance services, not the KY Public Health Department. I spoke with our representative from KDPH this morning and they have already assisted in securing us a ventilator. Our regional representative from KDHP has went above and beyond to help us secure anything and everything we have needed for this pandemic. I apologize for referencing the wrong department. I want to personally thank the KDPH for all they are doing in this very stressful time,” says Judge Gabbard.

The issue was addressed by Acting Secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Eric Friedlander, at Thursday’s coronavirus briefing in Frankfort.

“I reached out to Judge Garrard today and we had a very good conversation. There were some communication issues. But at the end of the conversation, he was letting me know how much he appreciated our support and how much Jackson Manor appreciated our support. We are going to re-test many of the folks in Jackson Manor to make sure that we are cohorting correctly there, that we’re supporting them there, we have provided some
P-P-E there,” said Friedlander.

While that was going on, another positive test was reported at Jackson Manor, an employee, according to the local health department.  There was some good news to report, eleven people from the nursing home have recovered, according to health officials.

Original Story Below from 4-22-20:

JACKSON COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) — Long-term care facilities, like nursing homes, have become coronavirus hot spots across the country and in Kentucky.

Locally the numbers are surging, including at a nursing home in Jackson County.

Wednesday marks two weeks since the county had its first positive case of COVID-19. Since then the numbers have exploded because of an outbreak at a nursing home in Annville.

The local health department says of the 56 cases in the county, 51 are from the Jackson Manor nursing home.

“We are concerned that there may be still some staff that test positive because they are working in an environment where they are consistently exposed all the time,” says Cumberland Valley District Health Department’s public health director, Christie Green.

The health department says a dozen staff members have tested positive and 39 people who live there. Four of them have died.

“Five are in the hospital as we speak. Two are on comfort care which means they’re just trying to make them comfortable and hoping for the best,” says Judge-Executive Shane Gabbard.

To give you an idea how quickly the virus spread, the nursing home went from three cases to 40 in one day.

Judge Gabbard says after talks with the health department, they think it started with a physical therapist at the home.

“He was in contact with probably not all of them but a great majority of them just doing his job and him having no idea he was sick,” says Gabbard.

Green does believe the nursing home has peaked when it comes to its residents.

To make matters worse, Gabbard says the county’s ambulance’s ventilator just broke. The county doesn’t have a hospital so the ventilator is critical when transporting coronavirus patients.

“We made a call-in to request a ventilator for our ambulance and they told us ‘well, do y’all have any cases in Jackson County?’ so, that’s pretty concerning. How do you not know at the Kentucky Health Department that we don’t have cases in Jackson County? How do you not know that?” asks Gabbard.

He fears his county may be getting overlooked. Not intentionally, but Gabbard says that can happen in rural counties.

“I know that we’re small but we have a very serious issue here,” says the judge-executive.

Gabbard doesn’t think the state realizes the real effect this is having on Jackson County.

“It’s like a nightmare you want to wake up the next day and say ‘that’s just been a bad dream’ but unfortunately it’s not,” says Gabbard.

Despite all the negative, the county is trying to focus on the positives like those who have recovered and honoring the heroes working in the hot zone at the nursing home.

“They really understand the severity of the situation they’re in and the life or death nature of the care they’re providing for our elders in this community,” says Green.