DHS releases list of 38 nursing homes 'with active public health investigations' amid COVID-19

MADISON -- The names of 38 nursing homes in Wisconsin where there are active public health investigations due to an outbreak of COVID-19 were released Wednesday, May 13 by the Department of Health Services.

CLICK HERE for the list. (NOTE: Scroll to the BOTTOM of the page -- and you can search by county -- or view the complete list on the bottom right side of the page).

DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm said in a statement that the names were released “in order to provide peace of mind to families who cannot visit or check on their loved ones during these unprecedented times.” Previously, the department only listed how many investigations into nursing homes were ongoing, but did not name any facilities.

“As we continue to see cases of COVID-19 in nursing homes, it is important to be transparent and list the locations where they are occurring,” Palm said.

Of the 38 facilities with outbreaks as of Wednesday, Milwaukee County had the most, with 12 facilities on the list.

"That doesn't mean that every single one of these or even that any of them are a bad place," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Families seeking answers to their questions for weeks finally got some peace of mind with the release of this new information. Ann Christiansen with the North Shore Health Department noted health officials work with officials at these facilities to manage the outbreaks and keep everyone informed.

"If there are residents who have been exposed, then we work with the facilities to notify those family members of those residents as well as the residents themselves depending on the type of facility," said Christiansen.

"Whether it's meat packing companies, whether it's nursing homes, whether it's government agencies, I think it makes sense to have transparency," said Mayor Barrett.

DHS officials noted outbreaks at nursing homes have been a particular concern because older people are more susceptible to the virus, which can be easily spread where many people live close to one another.

It only takes one case of a resident or staff member testing positive at a nursing home to spur a public health investigation. The department said the list of facilities with ongoing investigations will be updated every Wednesday.

Wednesday's release came after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid announced officials at nursing homes must not only inform the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of positive COVID-19 cases, but also, residents and their families.

DHS officials did not release how many positive cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed at each facility -- or how many deaths have occurred.

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