March 13, 2020
As information about COVID-19 changes rapidly, and has been established as a pandemic, we want to ensure our residents, family members and co-workers that our organizations are prepared. We have procedures in place to prepare for and help reduce the spread of illnesses such as COVID-19 and influenza. Our management team actively monitors updates and guidance from the state health departments, American Health Care Association, World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We have set up a toll-free phone number and email addresses to capture any questions for our team to answer. The toll-free number is 855-772-2734 and email questions@CountryMeadows.com or questions@EcumenicalRetirement.org. Our goal is to get back to you with the information within 24 hours.
We have activated our Clinical Task Force which meets frequently to assess the current status of the COVID-19 pandemic and adjust our policies and procedures to reduce the potential spread of the virus. Our current focus is on preventing the virus from reaching our customers and co-workers, and we have made changes to visitation and other policies to protect our vulnerable residents. This document shares the latest updates.
New Temporary Visitation Policy
Early estimates show a nearly 15% mortality rate for adults over 80 years old who contract COVID-19. While many visitors may not show any symptoms, they may be able to transmit the virus to others. Because the risk is very large for our residents, we are making changes to our visiting policies to protect them as well as those who care for them.
- We have suspended visitation from all non-essential visitors. At this time, essential visitors include medical personnel, contractors and immediate family members visiting for time-sensitive reasons such as hospice-related visits, end-of-life situations, individuals for pre-admissions meetings, completion of medical authorizations or significant resident issues.
- We suggest alternate methods of communication such as phone calls and video chat. (Our co-workers can help residents arrange a video chat.)
- Entrance points will be reduced at all campuses. Signs will be posted on all entrances to direct you to the appropriate entrance.
- All essential visitors are required to complete a screening form when entering one of our campuses.
- All essential visitors must apply hand sanitizers provided in our campus lobbies. We ask visitors to use the provided sanitizers instead of personal hand sanitizing products as the provided products meet the criteria to kill germs associated with flu and COVID-19.
- Essential visitors who have respiratory symptoms including cough, fever, shortness of breath and sore throat will be asked to return when they are feeling better.
New Temporary Visitation Policy Regarding Group Visits
- All group visits including those by schools, entertainers, clubs and other local organizations are postponed until further notice.
- All public events scheduled on our campuses are canceled including marketing brunches, support groups, Easter egg hunts and health fairs.
Our teams have received several questions about COVID-19. Below are answers to the most frequently asked questions about our organizations’ pandemic preparedness tactics.
Does Country Meadows or Ecumenical Retirement Community have any cases of suspected COVID-19?
Not at this time. It is important to note that COVID-19 is just one virus in a large family of coronaviruses. Coronaviruses have been around for years and cause a number of respiratory illnesses. In fact, many of us may have had one of these viruses over our lifetime.
What are your plans if you become aware of a suspected case of COVID-19?
As part of our ongoing influenza surveillance, co-workers who deliver care services to residents are trained to recognize and report flulike symptoms in our residents, including symptoms of COVID-19, to our clinical team. If a case is reported, co-workers take the following actions:
- Issue a mask to the resident and quarantine to his/her apartment.
- Notify the campus nursing team who will assess and monitor the resident’s symptoms and, if necessary, send a resident to a physician or hospital for diagnosis and treatment.
- Don personal protective equipment (PPE) when entering a resident’s apartment and providing personal care services.
- Deliver meals to the resident in his/her apartment.
What are you doing to reduce or kill germs on campus?
- Reviewed our lists of cleaning products, sanitizers and antibacterial products and confirmed their effectiveness against COVID-19.
- Increased cleaning frequency for commonly touched surfaces and public spaces.
- Encouraged co-workers to monitor hand sanitizer and soap dispensers and report any refill needs to management.
- Increase cleaning frequency of community equipment with sanitizing products from resident use.
- Increase cleaning frequency of community vehicles with sanitizing products from resident transport.
What steps are you taking to reduce spread of the virus?
- Actively monitor and observe residents and co-workers for symptoms.
- Monitor and manage our supply of PPE including masks, hygiene supplies, hand sanitizer—both at campuses and our company warehouse.
- Closed all campus salad bars.
- Removed self-serve hand-dipped ice cream and are serving individually wrapped frozen desserts.
- Discontinued breakfast buffets (serving prepackaged items and wrapped fruit instead).
- Suspended some traditional practices at campus religious services such as the sign of peace, communion, communal wine and songbook usage.
- Suspended resident hospital visitation by campus chaplains.
- Discourage hand-shaking, hugs and resident use of public bathrooms.
- Suspended resident outings to public places.
What are you doing to reduce spread of infection by third-party providers and outside vendors?
- Sent letters to vendors sharing details for our enhanced visitation restrictions. If the visit is essential, they’ve been instructed to self-screen and limit entry if:
- Have traveled to or returned from a country under CDC Travel Health Warning and should refrain from visiting any of our communities for at least 14 days after their return. This includes CDC Travel Warning Levels 2 and 3.
- Had contact with someone who traveled to the above-mentioned countries and should refrain from visiting for 14 days after the contact.
- Have symptoms of respiratory illness and should return only when they are feeling better. These symptoms include fever, sneezing, coughing, sore throat, runny nose and other flulike symptoms.
- Posted signs and notices on main entrance doors and websites alerting visitors about our revised visitation policy and hand-sanitizing expectations.
- Restricted visits from community groups including schools, churches, scouts, etc.
What are you doing to reduce spread of infection by co-workers?
- Implemented a travel policy:
- Co-workers who have traveled to or returned from a country under CDC Travel Health Warning may not return to campus for at least 14 days after their return. This includes CDC Travel Warning Levels 2 and 3.
- Co-workers who have been in contact with a person who recently traveled to or returned from one of the above-mentioned countries should refrain from returning to work for 14 days after the contact.
- Co-workers who have been in contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 should not return to campus for 14 days after the contact.
- Mandated any co-workers who are ill to stay home.
- Strongly encourage co-workers to practice increased safe hand-washing techniques. Residents are encouraged to ask a co-worker to wash his/her hands before providing services.
- Require co-workers to use PPE when caring for a sick resident.
What are you doing to keep staff up to date on COVID-19 protocols and response procedures?
- Conduct regular clinical taskforce meetings to review and discuss updates and guidance from the Pennsylvania and Maryland state health departments, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Health Care Association and World Health Organization. Communicate findings with each campus’ pandemic alert team.
- Reviewed and updated pandemic policy and practices with all management to share with line staff.
- Continue ongoing training on virus response and infection control for co-workers.
- Training Home Office resource emergency team to deploy to any campus in the event of confirmed COVID-19.
- Continue to review staffing needs and support.
- Creating contingency staffing plans in the event of a widespread outbreak affecting co-worker attendance.
If you have any questions not answered in this article, please email email@example.com.