COVID-19: What We're Doing to Manage the Crisis and Support Families, Staff and Partners Through This Challenging Time
Since the start of this terrible pandemic we have taken aggressive steps to keep our residents and staff as safe as possible. Below are some of the actions we have taken, and continue to take, to manage the virus during this difficult time. We will continue to take these precautions and update our actions as we get additional guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) and other experts.
- In the event that residents are showing signs and symptoms of respiratory illness or if residents have tested positive for Coronavirus or COVID-19, we contact their physician and cohort residents with similar symptoms together so that we can manage the spread of the virus.
- To the best of our ability, we dedicate staff to a unit where symptomatic residents or residents who have tested positive for COVD-19 are located. Designated equipment is also placed on the unit to prevent the spread of the virus.
- We are testing residents and staff where testing is available.
- We follow the guidance from the CDC, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) and other industry experts regarding protocols for infection control to reduce the spread of the virus.
- We screen all staff and take their temperatures at the start of each shift. If staff exhibits signs and symptoms of respiratory illness we send them home to self-quarantine.
- We are screening all third party essential health personnel (physicians, nurse practitioners, hospice staff, etc.) before each visit and we make sure they have the appropriate personal protective equipment (“PPE”) in place prior to their visits.
- We have restricted visitation since early March and continue to adhere to those restrictions today.
- We have stopped all communal activities and dining since early March. Activities and dining takes place in resident rooms to minimize risk.
- Our staff is required to wear PPE throughout their shift in accordance with CDC guidance.
- We have additional PPE supplies in storage so we can replenish supplies at the Center level.
- We are limiting resident outings to only those that are medically necessary.
- We have engaged a physician group who will help with medical support and oversight of the COVID-19 Center efforts. This group will utilize telehealth services to monitor residents with signs and symptoms of respiratory illness and residents who have tested positive for COVID-19.
- We have received additional tablets and laptops and are using Zoom, FaceTime, etc. to allow frequent communication between residents and their friends and families.
- We are providing assistance to our staff so that they can continue to be healthy and come to work to care for our residents.
- We are following CDC guidance for returning staff to work after a spell of illness.
Thank you to the state and local health departments and state emergency preparedness agencies for their partnership and ongoing dialogue. I would also like to thank the National Guard who has assisted with testing, cleaning and disinfecting some of the Centers.
I also want to offer a heartfelt Thank You to our Center Leadership teams and their staff, as well as the District, Division and Field Support teams for all of your efforts during this very challenging time.
To support our staff and teams we have implemented “hero and enhanced pay practices” in many centers that are managing COVID-19 positive cases. But it’s really the day-to-day acts of kindness that strike a chord. Many of our leaders have offered meals to their staff so that they do not have to leave the Centers for lunch or dinner and provide comfort soup kits to team members that are self-isolating at home as a result of COVID-19. I especially want to recognize the important role our Infection Preventionists play during this pandemic. We will continue to support all of our teams in the coming days and months.
Finally, I thank our community members for the kindness and support they have provided our Centers. I have heard so many stories of community resources, businesses and individuals that have brought the Centers food, cloth masks and other supplies, day in and day out. The Centers appreciate your kindness and generosity more than you can imagine.
So what now? In order to pay forward all of the kindness that we have been fortunate to receive, we are in the process of establishing designated COVID-19 Care Centers. These units are designed with monitoring units to care for those individuals suspected to have COVID-19, as well as units for COVID-19 positive patients.
Dedicated staff will be assigned to these units, additional personal protective equipment provided, telehealth services available, where possible, and will be equipped with COVID-19 test kits to help us better serve those individuals who have been exposed to COVID-19. These COVID-19 Care Centers are strategically located to be able to serve hospitals and affiliated centers and to support our communities at large. We will continue to introduce these COVID-19 Care Centers as the need dictates.
All client Centers continue to follow the guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and other industry experts. We revise our Toolkits as information changes to assure that our client Centers have the latest information available and implement nation-wide calls twice a week to support the Centers and answer questions in real time. We continue to purchase personal protective equipment to keep staff safe and healthy while providing the highest quality care for all residents.
I am proud of our efforts to date and I thank all of the families and residents for putting their faith in us. We will get through this together.
To our staff, I want to again thank you for your continued support. We appreciate all you do every day for our residents and patients.
May 20, 2020
Dear trusted partners and associates,
I want to take a moment to let you know how much we appreciate your partnership. It is important during this time to recognize and thank those around us who are committed to the same cause – providing seniors with dignified, quality care.
Many of us have been working together for a very long time, through previous crises and times of great uncertainty. We have always demonstrated our resilience and strength and recovered stronger, together. As we all know, the reputation of our industry is now at stake.
COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the world we live and work in, and not without terrible sacrifices and tragic loss. The health and safety of our residents and staff continues to be our top priority, and as our partner, your support has been crucial in that mandate.
As we continue to fight the current battle on an hourly and daily basis, we depend on each other’s insights and learnings now more than ever. I encourage us to share best practices and to stop the spread of any misinformation that diminishes or distracts from our focus on the people in our care. While it is easy to lay blame right now, what’s more important is doing everything in our power to protect our people and support our community.
Once this moment has passed, we will all be called upon, and must take responsibility for rebuilding our future together; a future where we are as diligent as ever about preserving the care of our residents and supporting the people who are dedicated to providing care every day, while welcoming innovation and new solutions that increase the quality of our care.
Thank you for your ongoing support. We look forward with strength, optimism and courage to a better future together.
Tim Schindler, Chief Operating Officer
SavaSeniorCare Consulting Services, LLC
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