Update from Administrator – May 22, 2020
As always, our team and I hope this finds you safe and healthy.
As we approach Memorial Day Weekend, I would like to first take this opportunity to show respect and honor to all those Veterans who have lost their life serving our country. My sincerest thoughts and prayers go out to them and their families. Another “thank you” for all the staff’s hard work, dedication, and compassion for all of our residents here. We remain incredibly grateful for our entire dedicated team and ask you to join me in ensuring that they are included as “Health Care Heroes” battling COVID-19. They are doing everything they possibly can to care for those suffering and support them as they battle this disease.
We continue to offer our weekly conference call for families and FaceTime calls, Skype sessions and window visits for you and your loved ones. Please continue to reach out to our recreation team to schedule “visits”. The state was kind enough to supply us with an additional iPad to conduct FaceTime visits.
Over the last week we have continued to appropriately cohort our residents according to the CDC guidance.
We are still waiting to get our testing date from DPH for both residents and staff and you will be notified when it is scheduled. The current numbers for our center are 27 COVID-19 recovered residents, 8 COVID-19 positive residents, and 5 COVID-19 positive staff members.
As you know from our communications, managing this virus has been devastating to our staff but we are doing all we can to treat them. We currently have 8 positive residents in house but will discuss our numbers in more detail during our weekly call (information below). Last week, the state DPH and members of the National Guard visited our center along with members of the National Guard and found us to be in compliance for PPE, staffing and infection control and prevention issues. We continue to follow all CDC and state guidelines and receive regular updates on new guidelines that are offered.
Good news… As of today, we have seen 27 of our residents convert to negative and are now symptom-free of COVID-19. We are very excited for these residents, their families, and our staff. We anticipate this number to continue to rise and we will begin holding recognition ceremonies to celebrate their success. Check our Facebook page to see updated pictures and video of parades and “graduation” ceremonies. It is truly uplifting for our staff and residents.
Testing our Residents
I want to take this opportunity to update you about measures being taken to protect the rights, health, and safety of nursing home residents. Since this pandemic began, we have been constrained due to having a limited number of test kits and supplies necessary to test all nursing home residents. However, we are now at a point where supplies and testing capability have become available. This means that testing for all nursing home residents can now begin, regardless of signs and symptoms.
The Department of Public Health and the National Guard are working with nursing homes to test every resident, both symptomatic and asymptomatic. This is expected to be completed by the end of May. As soon as we have a date and our testing materials are in hand, we can begin to test all residents and send the kits back for processing. We will let you know when this happens – the test and the results.
Once tested, residents will be appropriately cohorted which may require a room change. Please know that the resident and family member will be notified prior to the room change, but this is a necessary step in the process to protect the residents’ health. Residents who refuse testing will need to be cohorted with individuals of an alike status or COVID-19 unknown for 14 days.
We want to assure you that residents and family members will be informed throughout this process. Regular testing will continue until public health officials feel there is no longer a risk. With this level of testing the state will try to identify areas with the most risk and posing the highest level of concern. They will strategically focus their response to assist nursing homes and appropriately respond to the needs of their residents.
Now that the weather is looking good – you will receive another email soon with information about scheduling window visits with your loved ones. You might already be familiar with Sign Up Genius, if not, it is a user-friendly way to create schedules via the internet. Please remember that the window visits must be pre-scheduled to ensure safe and healthy visits for you, the residents, and our staff. We are also very excited to be working on outside visits with your loved one in the near future; provided masks are worn by everyone involved and social distancing takes place. More to come on that soon.
We appreciate your concern for our staff and we have field many questions on social media and through phone calls about testing of our staff. We know there have been many references to testing being available to all staff and that the governor “wants” and “encourages” the testing of all nursing home staff. We have heard that spots are reserved for staff. We strongly support this idea – but as I have mentioned before, the state is still not there yet. We would love to see mass testing of our staff, but we have not been provided with the state’s plan to address this.
We are working with the state and our state association for staff testing. This is not about our finances. This is about access, planning and assuring a process is in place.
The state of Connecticut is reserving only 50 spots per day for nursing home, assisting living, and residential care workers. These spots will be available each day, six days a week (Monday through Saturday), for these workers. Obviously, the demand for testing is expected to exceed the capacity. Our center alone has 127 full and part-time employees. Below is the information we have received from the state:
“Effort will be made to prioritize requests based on the criteria listed below, recognizing that not every potential test recipient will be able to immediately take advantage of this opportunity. (Healthcare workers and their family members can be directed to the CVS website for CVS testing independent of these reserved spots, too).
Priority will be given to persons with one or more of these symptoms:
- Fever of 100 degrees or higher;
- New cough within last 14 days;
- Shortness of breath
Second priority will be given to person with one or more of the following risk factors:
- Exposure to or contact with someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days;
Healthcare workers may also register through the online system for the general public for assignment to the non-reserved slots. Anyone who does not have an appointment will not be tested. Tests can be scheduled for the same day or up to two days in advance. To register, visit http://www.cvs.com/minuteclinic/covid-19-testing.
As a reminder, our next “Town Hall” meeting is scheduled for 6/5/2020 at 2pm and we will discuss more detailed information during this time. We encourage any residents and family members to contact me with any questions you have about the care we are offering. Our commitment is to be as transparent as possible and work to address any issues that arise. This is an incredibly challenging time and we will continue to do all we can to get through this, together. A reminder that resident-specific questions cannot be answered during these calls or on our Facebook page so please reach out to us directly if needed.
Thank you and please stay safe and healthy!