As of Wednesday, there have been 29 deaths in Forrest County nursing homes, and 86 percent of those deaths have occurred at Bedford Care Center of Hattiesburg.
Cumulatively, there have been 55 employee cases, 92 resident cases and 25 deaths at the nursing home, which has 152 beds. Those numbers are the highest seen at any such facility in Mississippi, and the facility is still considered to have an active outbreak, according to information released Wednesday by the Mississippi State Department of Health.
There are eight Bedford Care Centers in the state, and there are three other locations in Forrest County. The Alzheimer’s Care Center in Hattiesburg has 60 beds, and the Monroe Hall location, also in Hattiesburg, has 80 beds. Additionally, there is Bedford Care Center of Petal, which has 60 beds.
The information from the Health Department, sent to The PineBelt NEWS by email, shows that the Petal location previously had a COVID-19 outbreak with two affected employees, and the Alzheimer’s Care Center previously had an outbreak with one sick employee.
Other Bedford locations include the 120-bed Bedford Care Center of Marion, the 120-bed Bedford Care Center of Newton, the 60-bed Bedford Care Center of Picayune and the 60-bed Bedford Care Center of Mendenhall, which is currently closed for renovations.
According to the Health Department information, there is an active virus outbreak at Bedford Care Center of Marion, which is located in Lauderdale County.
Cumulatively, there have been three employee cases at that facility. There is also an active outbreak at the Newton facility, where, cumulatively, there have been three sick employees and one sick resident.
Bedford Care Center of Hattiesburg is managed by a group called the Hattiesburg Medical Park Management Corporation. The owners of the facility are listed, in ownership information acquired by The PineBelt NEWS, as Sonya McElroy, Jack Bevon, Stephen Worrell, Nicole Bevon, Michael McElroy and Janet McElroy.
The ownership information also lists Bedford Health Properties, LLC as an owner with 5 percent or greater direct ownership interest. In information on file with the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office, that company lists Michael E. McElroy Jr. of Hattiesburg as its registered agent and Michael Eugene McElroy of Hattiesburg as a member.
According to the Bedford website, Mike McElroy “began his career in long-term care with the purchase of one nursing home in Hattiesburg” in the 1970s.
The website adds that Bedford is “one of the largest locally-owned groups of skilled nursing facilities in the state.” In addition to the eight skilled nursing facilities, the website says related companies include an institutional pharmacy, staffing relief through HMP Nursing Services and private-duty care to seniors through Bedford Care at Home.
Forrest County ranks second in the state for deaths in long-term care facilities, a classification used by the Health Department that includes nursing homes. Only Lauderdale County, which has experienced 45 deaths, ranks higher.
The Health Department started releasing the names of long-term care facilities affected by COVID-19 following a lawsuit filed by The PineBelt NEWS and a subsequent court order.
Andrew Abadie and J. Daniel Cloud contributed to this report.
This story will be updated.