Dear Residents, Family Members and & Staff,
In the US and particularly in our area we have been facing the COVID-19 Pandemic for three months. We have seen the numbers of deaths that have faced our Nation, now over 100,000 lives have been lost to this virus. And read any newspaper or watch any newscast and you will find Nursing Homes have been one of the hardest hit population.
Why you might ask? The first answer to the question is what comes to mind most often – nursing home residents are often already sick either with multiple diagnoses (co-morbidities) or they are immunocompromised because of illness or age or both.
Another reason is because testing has been so spotty throughout the Country. For a large part of the timeframe between realizing the pandemic was upon the US until now- testing criteria continues to change. Some testing centers you had to have symptoms to be tested, some were health care workers could be tested, some rationed testing allowing some facilities to only test five (5) residents others had to have symptoms to test. So there is no clear picture at this time of how many residents in any given nursing home across the US there are that have the virus.
Now for some positive news– testing is opening up. The Federal Government and some State and County Health Departments of Public Health are creating a push to get not only all residents tested but staff as well. Now this is no panacea – there is still no cure and no medications.
But know that in our facility whether tested or not any resident showing signs or symptoms of possible COVID-19 are treated as Persons Under Investigation (PUIs) and are isolated with vital signs and O2 saturations monitored more frequently to weather the storm to a hopeful, prayerful recovery.
Our residents are recovering. And the numbers of residents we have as PUIs is dropping week over week.
When we communicate with residents and family members the most often question asked is when can I see my family? Unfortunately, this is doesn’t seem likely in the near future. CDC, CMS and State of Public Health are still grappling with when. However, we can tell you that when these agencies give clearance to us we will work hard and fast to implement a safe policy as quickly as we can. It is likely (but no guidance has been given yet) that there may be a maximum number of visitors for each family; a limit of visitors at one time within the facility, and likely there may be a cap on visitation of days or times. There are multiple reasons for these possible restrictions from ensuring the facility has adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE); to ensuring safety to our residents and staff.
In the meantime until visiting resumes, know that we continue, as we always have – our residents are our family too. We know we cannot take the place of their loved ones but we strive hard to make a difference in their lives every day.
We caution people – don’t cast dispersions on the Nursing Home industry much like we wouldn’t cast them on victims of a tornado or a hurricane – this too is a perfect storm.
As always, our residents’ and staff’s health, safety and wellbeing is our highest priority, and we recognize the uncertainty and concern regarding the rapidly evolving Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19.)
Our facility’s planning and response to COVID-19 has been a multidisciplinary approach and a very coordinated plan following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The State Department of Public Health (DPH), and the County Health Departments.
For the last ten or so weeks we proactively initiated and implemented increased infection prevention strategies and practices. These activities included:
- Symptom screening of staff and residents.
- Enhanced environmental cleaning and disinfection.
- New visitor restrictions of non-essential visitors have also been restricted to try and close the gap of an infection break in our facility.
- Assessing and ordering additional supplies.
All communication on change of conditions of residents are communicated to the Power of Attorney for Health Care or residents’ representatives as quickly as we can.
Increase Monitoring of all Residents Continues:
The most significant monitoring tool for this virus are monitoring resident Vital Signs and we are doing these minimally once a shift on stable residents and twice a shift for anyone showing signs or symptoms of this virus.
Again, we thank you for your patience and understanding and it is our hope that with this post, calls to the facility can be kept at a minimum to allow our staff to focus on resident care. Please know that if you have trouble reaching the facility to get an update on your loved one you can call:
The Consultant Compliance Hotline at 877-772-6744.
We have attached a quick summary of things in the next few pages for your information on what all of us can do to help reduce the likelihood of this virus coming into our homes.
The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The CDC has presented new guidance recently that is NOT likely that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. The broader caution is from being near someone with the virus and spreads through the respiratory droplets.
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness.
Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Or at least two of these symptoms:
- Repeated shaking with chills
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
Who is at higher risk?
- Older adults
- People who have serious chronic medical conditionslike:
- Heart disease
- Lung disease
We are here for you and together we will make it through this difficult time. We need all residents and staff to pay particular attention to good infection control precautions.
Clean your hands often
- Wash your handsoften with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
- Avoid touchingyour eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Take steps to protect others
Stay home if you’re sick
- Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care.
Cover coughs and sneezes
- Cover your mouth and nosewith a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
- Throw used tissuesin the trash.
- Immediately wash your handswith soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Wear a face mask to protect both others and yourself.
Clean and disinfect
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfacesdaily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
- If surfaces are dirty, clean them:Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
When to Seek Medical Attention:
If you have any of these emergency warning signs* for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
- Persistent high fever
*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.