Dear Residents, Family Members and & Staff,
Our lives have moved to what we have been calling “our new normal.” Across Illinois and Indiana we have seen a “settling down” if you will in COVID cases in Nursing Homes. Our facility has progressed through any outbreaks, if we had one, and all things considered we are back on track to moving closer and closer to again the new normal of our facility’s operations.
It goes without saying, but we will, so many lives were cut short with the advent of this virus and the Nursing Home population was among them. We mourn, and will continue to mourn for the families, residents, and community members that lost the battle to this deadly pandemic.
There are a couple of “watch points” in our communities at large (not Nursing Homes) where pockets are of concern for our local States with transmission rates rising. And we will have to watch and see what happens as States open up completely: how schools opening up will affect the transmission of this virus; AND as travel increases -concerns with Staff, Physicians, and other health care providers that interact with our residents. Rest assured, everyone is watching – the CDC, CMS, State and Local Public Health Departments- all of us. We will not hesitate to deploy the restrictions of the last few months, i.e. visitation restrictions, essential workers only, among other, if we need to do this to keep our residents safe. We know we can count on our residents and family members to support our decisions if these restrictions again are needed.
We also have our eye on the “next season” of the pandemic– what will that do to our residents? The next season looks likely to be worse as it is predicted to come at the same time our resident population starts to see effects of the seasonal flu and the symptoms are so similar.
All of us have a responsibility to ourselves, to our family, to our residents, to our community in a prevention program of a reducing a resurgence:
Our facility has doubled down on our infection control work. Training and retraining on 4 main topics:
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – what / where / how / how to get more
Effective Cleaning Products
Among other topics
Reminding employees and anyone entering the facility, if you are sick, you cannot come to the facility and potentially infect others – whether it is Flu or COVID-19. Wear PPE – mask up whether it at the grocery store, the Walmart or at a family gathering. So often we are now reading stories someone went to a BBQ, Birthday Party, a Bar and didn’t wear a mask, didn’t social distance and later got a call someone at these functions were infected and didn’t know it at the time.
We have discussed with our employees travel concerns and avoiding hotspots identified by the CDC. We have even relaxed our employee’s vacation accrual process so employees can request an extension of using vacation time.
A note about PPE – there continue to be News stories out there about health care entities (hospitals and nursing homes alike) having / or had shortages of PPE. Since the beginning we have had enough PPE in our facility to keep our residents and staff safe. We have worked with multiple agencies: FEMA, the County, the State, our regular source for these items, as well as even our Consultant Company has a back-up supply of all PPE. IF we were ever running short (less than a week supply) the consultant company supplied us the next day of a request.
As always, our residents’ and staffs’ 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 continues and 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 four plus months or so and continuing 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 communication you have a sense of being part of our safety program. 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. However, keep in mind the CDC reports some people can spread the virus without being symptomatic.
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?
People with immunosuppressed conditions
People who have serious chronic medical conditions like:
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 hands often 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 touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Take steps to protect others
Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care.
Cover coughs and sneezes
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
Throw used tissues in the trash.
Immediately wash your hands with 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 surfaces daily. 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:
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.