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Assisted-living patient from Jamaica Plain who died tests positive for coronavirus

One staffer also tests positive, another resident in quarantine

An elderly Boston memory care patient who died March 20 has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a spokesperson for Rogerson House, which is at least the third assisted living facility in Massachusetts to experience a case of COVID-19.

A Rogerson spokesman said a 91-year-old man with underlying health conditions was taken to Carney Hospital on March 15 with “flu-like symptoms,” and soon placed into end-of-life care. He died Friday, March 20. The hospital notified Rogerson late on Saturday, the day after he died, that a coronavirus test done on the patient had come back positive.

That same day, managers at the facility learned that one of their “front-line healthcare" workers who had been in self-quarantine since March 16 was also positive for the disease, according to Rogerson House, in Jamaica Plain, an assisted living facility which cares for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.

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The facility has no record of the infected worker being in contact with the 91-year-old patient other than working on his floor, a spokesperson said.

Staff working at Rogerson House are now wearing protective masks, extra people have been brought on for cleaning and disinfecting, staff and residents are being checked twice a day for fevers and other symptoms, and residents remain confined to their “neighborhoods,” located on different floors to help with social distancing, according to Rogerson House. The facility currently has one resident in quarantine while waiting for coronavirus test results, a spokesperson said.

This patient, who the facility did not name, is counted among the nine patients state officials have said died of coronavirus, according to a person familiar with the case but is not authorized to speak about it. The state had identified one of the victims as a man in his 90s from Suffolk County.

Caring for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients during the pandemic is particularly difficult, said Walter Ramos, president and CEO of Rogerson Communities, the facility’s parent company.

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“This is a fragile group of elderly patients who may not understand or remember instructions,” he said. “That adds complexity to their care. We are trying to keep patients six feet from each other. With this group it is a challenge.”

Ramos said the staff is devastated by the news that a patient had been infected with the virus, which is most deadly to older patients with underlying health conditions.

Older populations living in close quarters in elder care facilities can be extremely vulnerable to coronavirus. The disease killed more than 30 people in a nursing home in Kirkland, Wash., outside Seattle. Investigators found 129 cases of COVID-19 at the Life Care nursing facility, including 81 residents, 34 staff members, and 14 visitors, the Globe has reported.

Two residents of The Branches, an assisted living and memory care facility in North Attleboro, have tested positive for coronavirus and are being treated at a local hospital.

Cape Cod Senior Residences in Bourne confirmed last week that a resident with underlying health conditions had tested positive and had been hospitalized.


Mark Arsenault can be reached at mark.arsenault@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @bostonglobemark