A survivor of Seattle-area nursing home outbreak heads home


Judie Shape, 81, who had been diagnosed with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and was a resident at Life Care Center of Kirkland, the long-term care facility linked to confirmed coronavirus cases in the state, leaves the center with her daughter, Lori Spencer, Kirkland, Washington, U.S. March 26, 2020. REUTERS/David Ryder

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – 81-year-old Judie Shape tested positive for coronavirus just days after checking into the Life Care nursing home near Seattle, where three dozen people have died in one of the earliest and deadliest U.S. outbreaks.

On Thursday, she went home.

Shape was featured in a previous Reuters story and photo essay chronicling the nightmare endured by residents, staff and families at the home. (For full story, click reut.rs/2Jkqv0h )

She recovered despite serious underlying health problems, including a stomach infection and recent blood clot surgery. Such conditions make the disease particularly dangerous for the elderly.

“She’s a survivor,” said her daughter, Lori Spencer.

Shape was admitted to Life Care Center on Feb. 26, for rehabilitation after her surgery. Three days later, when the facility confirmed its first positive coronavirus test, Shape was essentially trapped there because no other facility would accept patients that had been exposed to outbreak at the Kirkland, Washington nursing home.

Shape was first tested for coronavirus on March 8, with a positive result coming back two days later. She was again tested on Tuesday and Thursday, because she has been symptom-free for nearly two weeks.

Although the results have yet to come back, Spencer decided Shape was strong enough to leave. The daughter, like other family members with relatives at the home, had been barred from visiting her mother for safety reasons. She often comforted Shape by standing outside the window of her room – able to see her, but not touch her – as the two women talked on the phone.

“I went to the window yesterday, she looked really good, really bored, and like a caged tiger,” Spencer told Reuters in an interview. “It was time to take her home. And man, it’s nice to have her home.”

Reporting by Tim Reid; Editing by Brian Thevenot

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