A Hendersonville nursing home hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic is hopeful after residents and staff received the first dose last week of the COVID-19 vaccine.

National HealthCare Corporation (NHC) Hendersonville currently ranks fifth in the state in the number of deaths at a long-term care facility related to COVID-19, according to information provided by the Tennessee Department of Health.

The nursing home had recorded 22 deaths as of Jan. 8, according to the department’s “current facilities with cases” list. The list contains long-term care facilities with more than one positive COVID-19 case in a resident or staff within the last 28 days, and is published weekly on the department of health’s website.

The facility had reported 11 deaths for the week ending Dec. 4. Ninety-four residents and 55 staff members have tested positive at the facility, according to the state data.

Only one Sumner County long-term care facility has had more deaths. The Gallatin Center for Rehabilitation and Healing, a facility that made national headlines in March when more than 165 residents and staff tested positive for the virus, reported 25 deaths earlier in the year. However, since that facility hasn’t reported a death in several months, it is not on the current state list.   

“We knew as soon as community spread started increasing that we would see more cases,” said NHC Spokesperson Casey Reese. Sumner County’s number of active COVID-19 cases – a marker used to determine the community spread rate – jumped from more than 1,000 cases in mid-November to a peak of 2,028 cases on Dec. 21. As of Monday, there were 1,921 active cases in the county, placing the spread rate at around one percent.

Reese said the nursing home has continued to follow state and CDC guidance by testing residents and staff twice-a-week and isolating those who test positive for the virus.  

“Unfortunately, with COVID-19 and the population we serve – the elderly and those with chronic conditions – we have seen some loss,” she said. Reese noted that the number of COVID-19 deaths reported are those who have died with the virus, and not necessarily from the virus.

NHC Sumner in Gallatin has reported six COVID-19-related deaths.

According to Reese, residents and staff at NHC’s Hendersonville facility received the first round of the COVID-19 vaccine earlier this month and those at the Gallatin facility were expected to receive their doses this week.

“We’re very excited we’ve had this opportunity,” she said. “This vaccine has really been a game-changer and brings some much-needed hope. It’s been a really long year.”

Statewide there have been 2,065 resident deaths at long-term care facilities with 16, 479 residents and 13,120 staff testing positive for the virus. There have been 85 deaths at long-term care facilities in Sumner County – 38 percent of the county’s total COVID-19 related deaths of 223.

COVID-19 related deaths at long-term care facilities in Sumner County

Gallatin Center for Rehabilitation and Healing – 25

NHC Hendersonville – 22

Hickory Hills Alzheimer’s Special Care Center (Hendersonville) – 9

NHC Sumner (Gallatin) – 6

Westmoreland Care and Rehabilitation Center – 6

Signature Health of Portland – 6

Waters of Gallatin – 3

Hearth at Hendersonville – 3

Grace Place (Hendersonville) – 2

Main Street Living (Hendersonville) - 2

Richland Place Senior Living (Portland) - 1