Dear Residents, Family Members and & Staff,
All of us in the Midwest have had a slowing effect of the COVID virus over the last few months including our home. Our lives had moved to what we have been calling “our new normal.” Across Illinois and Indiana we had 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. HOWEVER – read any news article, listen to any newscast and you will see the Midwest area, Indiana and Illinois included, are seeing a resurgence of the COVID virus in our communities. We feared this might happen, and it appears that it is starting. Although our facility is stable with facility acquired COVID cases at this time, it is our opinion and experience that what is “happening” in the community evidentially makes its way into the nursing home. To illustrate that point, please see the graph below outlining community cases and nursing home cases of COVID infections. We can see clearly that after about mid-June, the Nursing Home cases follow the rise and fall of the community cases.
Graph presented by American Health Care Association using CMS and Johns Hopkins data.
This correlation of community spread to nursing homes brings two major concern areas: visitation of our residents- your loved ones and our staff. 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 greater resurgence. At times our home may restrict even outdoor visitation to try and curb the spread. Our facility has doubled down on our infection control work. Training and retraining on 4 main topics:
- Isolation Practices including protection practices of staff when out in the community
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – what / where / how / how to get more
- Effective Cleaning Products
- Social Distancing
Among other topics We are continuing to remind 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. Follow the Community Health Departments’ warnings and advice: Wear PPE – mask up whether it is 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), but know that we are doing everything we can to reduce the impact in our home. 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. Since March 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.
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
- Repeated shaking with chills
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
Who is at higher risk? Older adults People with immunosuppressed conditions People who have serious chronic medical conditions like:
- Heart disease
- Lung disease
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:
- Trouble breathing
- 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.