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Virus strikes hard at Good Samaritan nursing home in Blackduck

A Blackduck nursing home has been hit hard with COVID-19 cases among residents and employees.

Nurses and nurse practitioners from the United States Public Health Service are helping with a COVID-19 outbreak at the Good Samaritan Society nursing home in Blackduck. (Jennifer Parker / For the Pioneer)

BLACKDUCK -- Health care professionals from the U.S. Public Health Service have been working at the Good Samaritan Society nursing home in Blackduck after the facility was hit with a wave of COVID-19 cases.

Six residents have died, and the virus has infected 27 residents and 20 employees. The facility employs 52 people and had 28 residents at its peak last month.

“You never really train for this type of situation,” said Jonathan Stone, the home’s administrator. “It’s something that’s unprecedented. It is a difficult time, but it’s definitely something we’re working through.”

They’re doing that with the help of 12 nurses and nurse practitioners from the U.S. Public Health Service. Five of them showed up on Thanksgiving Day when the cases were at their worst, and seven more have arrived since then. Stone expects them to be in Blackduck until sometime next week.

“They came from all over the country,” Stone said. “They’ve just been wonderful. I can’t thank them enough for everything that they’ve done for us. They definitely came at the right time when we needed them the most.”


As of Tuesday, six residents and 10 employees had recovered from the virus. The current COVID case count is 15 of the 22 residents and 10 employees.

“Every day we have residents that are coming off of quarantine or isolation that are recovering,” Stone said. “So that is a positive thing, seeing our residents and employees that are recovering. We are continuing to work through this with our employees, working to care for each of these residents that are impacted, working with the families.”

He praised his employees for their tireless work over the past several weeks.

“I’ve worked very diligently to just help the staff to work through the difficulty,” Stone said. “Our staff are just wonderful and I’m so grateful for them in their commitment caring for our residents throughout the pandemic. They’ve worked long hours and sacrificed time with their own families to be here when we’ve needed them most. I’m so thankful for them and continue to lift them up every day.”

The Blackduck Good Samaritan home made statewide news last week after its flood of cases was mentioned at a daily coronavirus briefing by Gov. Tim Walz. Beltrami County Public Health Director Cynthia Borgen said the county made the governor’s office aware of the situation in Blackduck.

“We worked on identifying how we make sure that the folks in St. Paul recognize that this is a crisis situation even though the numbers aren’t so high,” Borgen said. “We did just make sure that the folks at Good Sam had gone through all the steps and we did end up reaching out to the governor’s office to just say, ‘Hey we’re in crisis and we followed all your steps but we just want to make sure that you know.’”

Stone has been the administrator in Blackduck for just over two years. He has worked for the Good Samaritan Society for 13 years, the last 10 as an administrator.

“We deeply care for our residents,” he said. “We love them like family. Our hearts are with those who have lost loved ones. Our focus has been continuing to provide the best possible comfort and support to our residents during this difficult time. Some residents have been here for over six years. We become their family, and we definitely grieve with those loved ones who have lost loved ones. It’s difficult on all of us.”


Stone said although vaccines are on the way, it’s important for the community to stay diligent in helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“With the holidays just around the corner it’s important for people to get creative in how they celebrate this year,” he said, “whether that means family Zoom calls or celebrating apart this year so we can hopefully all celebrate together next year.”

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"You never really train for this type of situation,” says Jonathan Stone, administrator at the Good Samaritan Society nursing home in Blackduck. (Submitted photo)

Dennis Doeden, former publisher of the Bemidji Pioneer, is a feature reporter. He is a graduate of Metropolitan State University with a degree in Communications Management.
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