Due to a COVID-19 outbreak and a subsequent shortage in staff, Southside Behavioral Health decided to close the Brandon Home in South Boston on Saturday and moved those individuals into a facility that could continue to provide their care.

Another intermediate care facility, the Hope House in La Crosse also is experiencing an outbreak along with another outbreak at one of the organization’s adult group homes in Mecklenburg. They are under quarantine at this time, officials report.

Intermediate care facilities are facilities in which individuals require a higher level of care than a regular group home, according to Pamela Kidd with Southside Behavioral Health.

“We are working every day with the Virginia Department of Health and the epidemiologist for the Southside Health District, and we are taking her recommendations and suggestions to the best of our ability,” Kidd said.

A third group home in Mecklenburg also was under quarantine due to an employee testing positive. That quarantine ended Monday.

Officials with Southside Behavioral Health said that employee did not work in the facility during the time she was contagious, and that this quarantine was being done in an effort to reduce the risk of spread.

They said these current outbreaks have occurred in spite of the stringent protocols that have been put into place such as:

• Wearing PPE — masks, gloves, gowns and face shields;

• Changing out of street clothes into scrubs before entering the building;

• Daily screens of all staff and multiple screenings of residents;

• Sanitation of shoes; and

• No visitors in the buildings.

The virus started making its way into Southside’s facilities with staff getting sick and then unknowingly quickly spread it to the individuals living in the home.

Southside Behavioral Health is currently in coordination with the Virginia Department of Health to have all staff and residents tested and will be working with them throughout this outbreak for additional support, as they have been since the beginning of the pandemic.

Leaders with Southside Behavior Health called closing the Brandon Home a “very difficult decision.”

Other alternative placement for these individuals in known group homes that were taking COVID-19 positive patients was looked for. However, no other facilities had the capacity to take the individuals. In order to continue providing care, the decision was made to move the individuals to another Southside facility.

Southside Behavioral Health has offered compensation to staff for their increased risk, such as hazard pay, hotel rooms so they can isolate from their families, and allowed them to roll over unused PTO into the next fiscal year.

“These staff members are taking great risk and are being shown appreciation for their continued dedication to their jobs. They are the real heros,” as stated in a press release from Southside Behavioral Health.

This past weekend, due to the critical nature of the staffing shortage, Executive Director Beth Engelhorn and the Director of Developmental Disabilities Paul Mandel provided care to the individuals in Brandon Home because there was no staff to work at that time.

If anyone is looking for work, Southside Behavioral Health has immediate openings.

Southside Behavioral Health’s clinics remain open to the public and continue to offer services and are not experiencing any issues at this time.