Update from Administrator – May 19, 2020
As always, our team and I hope this finds you safe and healthy. As some states begin to ease restrictions on businesses and the general public, please note that the visitor restriction placed on us by the state in early March is still in effect for the foreseeable future; we will advise you when this changes.
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 iPads to conduct FaceTime visits. With the nice weather, we are considering in-person visits at an acceptable social distance. We are waiting for the final policy from our Corporate office.
As you know from our communications, managing this virus has been challenging to our employees but we are doing all we can to treat our residents. We currently have 13 positive residents in house but will discuss our numbers in more detail during our weekly call (information provided tomorrow morning). May 6, 2020, the CT DPH and members of the National Guard visited our center 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 30 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.
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. We are currently waiting to be contacted regarding the initiation of this process for our facility.
We appreciate your concern for our employees and we 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 employees and that the governor “wants” and “encourages” the testing of all nursing home employees. We have heard that spots are reserved for staff. We strongly support this idea – but the state is not quite there yet. We would love to see mass testing of our staff, but we have not been provided the testing kits to do and based on the below information from the state, this does not appear likely.
The state of Connecticut is reserving only 50 spots per day for nursing home, assisted 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 220 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 Wednesday, May 20, 2020 at 4:00 and we will discuss more detailed information during this time. We encourage any residents and family members to contact Kate Sasso-Billings, Nicole Goncalves, or myself 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!
Deborah S. Torrey