What changes have been made as the COVID-19 pandemic continues? (March 23, 2020)
As officials made clear that we are fighting a pandemic, we agree that the COVID-19 virus is a critical issue that requires strong focus and attention, and we have been working on this for several months. Our Medical Directors, Post Acute Care Hospitalists, Team Physicians and Nurse Practitioners are regularly updated on the COVID-19 clinical measures and monitoring that HCR ManorCare is taking in our facilities.
In addition to the precautionary measures we have in place to protect the safety and health of patients, employees and authorized visitors, we are:
- Following our enhanced COVID-19 risk admission screening which remains in place for all locations that are currently accepting patients.
- Patients who screen positive for any risk factors go through additional medical screening for final review before an admission can be approved.
- Admission holds will be put in place any time a facility has a Person Under Investigation (PUI), presumptive case, or confirmed case is identified as a potential risk. Testing for COVID-19 is not criteria in itself for an admission hold, but is taken into consideration.
- We are continuing our restricted visitation policy which includes:
- Visitors are restricted with the exception of compassionate care and end-of-life situations.
- All outside vendors have been restricted with the exception of those that are required for immediate health and life safety measures.
- Non-Critical Medical Provider Restrictions are also in place.
- We are continuing our monitoring and screening processes which include:
- Minimum of daily temperature checks on all employees, patients and authorized visitors
- Minimum of daily symptom monitoring (cough and/or dyspnea) on all employees, patients and authorized visitors.
We will continue to assess our protocols and adjust as needed to meet our goal of reducing the spread of this dangerous virus.
What visitation restrictions have you implemented?
Following a declaration of a State of Emergency by the President March 13, 2020, all of our skilled nursing centers and assisted living communities will be restricting all visitors, volunteers and non-essential health care personnel except for certain compassionate care situations, such as end-of-life situations.
Beginning March 14, 2020, we implemented these restrictions:
- All visitors will have limited access to our facility (only visiting the resident’s room or location designated by our care team) and must abide by our screening and monitoring processes. Please contact our center before visiting.
- Cancel all group activities and communal dining. Where group engagement is required, we will adhere to the social distancing guidelines of no less than 6 feet.
- Continue our active screening of residents and health care personnel for respiratory symptoms including checking temperatures for a fever.
We sincerely apologize for this extreme inconvenience, but we must abide by these guidelines and implement the most stringent precautions possible to protect everyone. We will do everything possible to ensure your loved one’s safety and make every opportunity to help you communicate with them during this time.
Why are you restricting individuals from entering your center or community?
The current COVID-19 outbreak situation means that it is critical that we take every precaution possible. We must prevent this virus from entering our center. Protecting our residents’ health and safety is our top priority.
Experts are recommending we act to limit individuals from entering our centers and communities and to ensure sick employees and visitors stay home.
There is a risk that people who appear healthy will enter nursing homes and infect residents. Studies of past viral epidemics where recommending prevention was delayed were not effective. These studies show that the sooner we limit interactions with each other and wash your hands frequently, virus spreads more slowly.
These facts have led many to recommend severe limitations on visitors. This describes why we have taken this action
We hope this explains to you why we are asking people to limit their visits. This may prevent you from physically seeing your family member or friend and we will make every effort to help you communicate with them. Our patients’ and residents’ health and safety are our top concern. We are committed to doing everything we can to protect them.
Why are we taking such precautionary measures?
We are taking these precautions to protect you, our patients and our staff. We realize it may be an inconvenience and concerning, but it is the right thing to do to ensure everyone’s safety. We are taking a thorough and cautious approach to reducing the risk of transmitting flu, cold and Corona virus to our patients and staff.
What should visitors do?
Please let us know if you are experiencing any cold or flu like symptoms. This would include a dry cough, shortness of breath, fever, aches or chills. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, we ask that you refrain from visiting today so we can avoid passing on any viruses to our patients. We are happy to keep you updated about your loved one and connect you with them as well while you recover.
Why are we asking to take your temperature?
The CDC has advised health care facilities such as ours to take additional precautionary measures to help ensure the safety of our patients and staff. In addition to our regular infection control precautions we implement every year during flu season, we are taking the temperature of all patients, staff and visitors. This is the best way to prevent the spread of infection.
Should I be concerned?
We do not feel you should be concerned, these efforts are intended to err on the side of precaution and make sure that we maintain a healthy environment for all. We have systems in place to help prevent the spread of infection. This is very important to protect our patients. We will continue to update you, but in the interim, we remind you to take the simple precautions, such as:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough and sneeze. Throw the tissue in trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for no less than 20 seconds, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol based hand cleansers are also effective.
- Try to avoid contact with sick people.
- Stay home if you do get sick, and limit contact with others so you don’t infect them.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
Why are you asking for my contact information?
As a precaution, we are ensuring contact information for family members and resident representatives are up-to-date should we need to contact you.
Should families who are worried move their loved ones out of skilled nursing centers or assisted living communities?
No. Moving the elderly or frail is risky and often has long-lasting impacts. Research around natural disasters and other emergency events has proven this over time. CDC does not currently recommend transferring residents either home or to the hospital.
How concerned are you for skilled nursing center or assisted living residents?
Just like the flu, we know that the frail and elderly are especially susceptible to this virus. That’s why we are in close communication with our local health department, CDC and CMS to ensure we have the latest information and resources available.
What face mask protocols are you implementing?
Per CDC engineering and administrative guidelines we are prioritizing the use of unexpired FDA-cleared surgical masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for all of our healthcare providers in procedures where CDC guidelines require them. Masking of health care providers who are not themselves contagious for routine patient care has not been demonstrated to decrease the risk of spread.
Are you having trouble getting things like masks and gowns?
Long term care providers are having some of the same difficulties as other health care providers getting masks and gowns. Providers should contact their state and local health departments if they are unable to place orders for equipment they need. It’s important to note that CDC does not recommend masks for the general public at this point.
What activities are you doing to help reduce social isolation during restricted visitations?
As part of our continued efforts to decrease the risk of spread of COVID-19 to our patients and in response to federal mandates, we are currently suspending non-essential group activities including group dining and other social activities in our centers, as well as group outings. The activity and recreation department will continue to provide one-to-one Programming to patients who fit the criteria and offer friendly visits to all other patients within the center. The activity and recreation department will also continue to encourage patient self-initiated leisure pursuits. Friendly visits will be related to the patient’s past and current interest. The activity and recreation department will continue to provide and offer patients with activities and leisure pursuits of interests, and opportunities for independent and individual activity involvement through this time of additional needed support.
Who are the essential personnel allowed in facilities?
Essential personnel not only include our skilled nursing and medical team members, but all employees who work in our centers/communities. We all have essential roles, even if those roles are not direct patient care. We are all able to help to keep the facility maintained and clean, help patients maintain their recovery regime, help patients stay engaged and in contact with the families, answer call bells, or assist in meal set up. In addition during these critical times, we are all needed to support and back up our nursing and medical teams by helping do things that do not require a license and certification.
I appreciate all you do to assist in our patients healing and maintaining their quality of life throughout their stay with us.
How can I stay connected with my loved one who is one of your communities or center?
We are currently working on technology options for our patients and residents to stay more connected to their loved ones. In the meantime, we are encouraging sending mail, email or making phone calls. Our staff can also help you connect via phone, facetime or skype.
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