Coronavirus file photo stock of ambulance

A patient wears a protective face mask as she is loaded into an ambulance at The Brooklyn Hospital Center emergency room, Wednesday, March 18, 2020, in New York. Anticipating a spike in coronavirus patients, New York City-area hospitals cleared beds, set up new spaces to triage patients and urged people with mild symptoms to consult health professionals by phone or video chat instead of flooding emergency rooms that could be overrun. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

State and federal agents investigating a Pointe Coupee Parish nursing home where at least 11 people died after contracting the coronavirus revisited the facility this week and plan to test each resident for the infection, officials said.

The Louisiana Department of Health’s investigation of Pointe Coupee Healthcare in New Roads involves the care and services it provides at the 120-bed facility, but state officials have offered few details of the probe.

Over the weekend, two more residents at the nursing home died, bringing the human toll at the facility to 11, according to the parish coroner’s office. The nursing home deaths account for nearly two-thirds of the parish’s 17 reported fatalities tied to COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus.

Following federal and state investigators’ inspection of Pointe Coupee Healthcare on Monday, health officials plan to test every resident at the facility by week’s end to understand the scope of the nursing home’s outbreak, Pointe Coupee Parish President Major Thibaut said.

“Hopefully they found some things that can be worked on,” he said.

Several family members have contacted Thibaut’s office in recent weeks with concerns about their loved ones living there, the nursing home's operations and the lack of communication about the virus’s spread within a wing of the facility. They say the nursing home has misled them about the extent of the outbreak and delayed informing family members about cases spreading.

The management company operating Pointe Coupee Health said previously that the facility, like many others in the state, has been battling back the virus. A regional manager on Tuesday declined to comment on the new cases or added testing measures.

Pointe Coupee Healthcare is part of a chain of 16 skilled nursing and assisted living facilities in Louisiana run by Plantation Management Co. in Denham Springs.

Two of the company’s top officials — Buster Quirk and his son Scott Quirk — are also board members of the Louisiana Nursing Home Association, a trade organization advocating for nursing homes, an industry with a powerful political lobby.

The Health Department has facilitated past on-site testing at other nursing homes in the state, including one of the pandemic’s earliest outbreaks, at Lambeth House, an upscale retirement community in New Orleans where dozens were sickened and several residents died.

Louisiana recently received the first batch of what is expected to be 200,000 coronavirus testing kits from the the federal government, many of which will be bound for prisons and nursing homes where close living quarters make them especially prone to outbreaks.

Dr. Alex Billioux, a top Louisiana Department of Health official, said Monday the department will send "strike teams" to help with testing for nursing homes unable to do so themselves.

Federal health officials have increased their focus on elder care homes in recent weeks following a growing number of cases in places housing older adults who are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus.

In Louisiana, more than 685 nursing home residents have died after contracting the virus, and infections have been reported at nearly two-thirds of the state’s 176 nursing homes, according to the latest Health Department figures.

Nearly all nursing care facilities in the state enacted measures aimed to keep the virus out, such as restricting visitors and screening employees and contractors who come to work, among other steps.

In Pointe Coupee Parish, all of the coronavirus deaths have involved people with underlying health conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes, said Ty Chaney, chief investigator for the Coroner's Office.

Two of the parish’s coronavirus deaths were residents of Lakeview Manor, a few miles away from Pointe Coupee Healthcare in New Roads, but no others were reported there since April 21, he said.


Email Youssef Rddad at yrddad@theadvocate.com, and follow him on Twitter @youssefrddad