(Updated Wednesday evening with statement from Carris Health – Redwood: ““Carris Health – Redwood Hospice confirmed their hospice staff are being tested regularly to ensure the safety of staff entering skilled nursing facilities.”)


River Valley Health and Rehabilitation Center in Redwood Falls has confirmed it has 31 residents who have tested positive for COVID-19, along with 12 staff members.

On Wednesday, Marc Halpert, Chief Operating Officer for Mankato-based Monarch Health Care Management, told KLGR the facility’s official number of positive test results came about when the testing standards were changed.

Halpert stated that over 70 percent of the people affected are asymptomatic. Previously residents and staff were tested if someone had symptoms or had come into contact with someone known to have COVID. Happert said, “We did test all the residents and staff, and that’s why the numbers kind of skyrocketed…. Our staff has been really diligent at wearing all the protective gear, goggles and masks. For seven months, we had no cases at River Valley. It’s been unbelievable, but now we have it and it’s going around, so we will stand strong and together.”

The increased testing came about to see if it would be safe, as specified by current state guidelines, to allow visitors to see the residents.

Halpert said, “We’re not sure how [COVID] came into the facility…. The problem is, we did admit a couple of people from the hospital, [and] we have had a couple essential care visits, so you never know. We had a couple of people in hospice, so we had a couple hospice workers come in, so it’s really unclear.”

As to why River Valley Health and Rehabilitation isn’t yet on the Minnesota Department of Health’s list of facilities that have had COVID patients, Halpert said, “I don’t know how often they update their system, but we do report to the Minnesota Department of Health, and have done it timely, so I assume at some point they will update.”

Halpert said the plan now is to basically just hunker down, make sure the residents’ needs are met and they stay comfortable, and make sure it’s not spreading any further.

“For seven months we’ve watched from afar from Redwood Falls, of other people, other communities, getting hit with COVID, and nobody every wants to have that in their community. This is a real virus, that does spread very rapidly … Just keep praying for our residents and staff, and know that we are one community, and that we stand with Redwood Falls, and we’re looking forward to serving the community for many years.”