We are all feeling uncertainty as the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) affects our everyday lives. I want to assure the Deutsches Altenheim community that we are closely monitoring advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), the Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA), and other trusted sources, and acting quickly to implement both mandated measures and recommended policies. Since these recommendations are changing daily, I am writing now to provide an update on Deutsches Altenheim’s management of this crisis. We will continue to post updates on our website as the situation evolves.
At this time, no known cases of COVID-19 have been identified on our campus. Staff are conducting daily wellness checks with all of our residents throughout the campus. All campus staff are screened for temperature and active symptoms prior to their scheduled work shift. Those experiencing any symptoms are asked to remain at home until cleared by a doctor.
The following protocols are now in place for the safety of the seniors in the Deutsches Altenheim community:
- Both DPH and EOEA have recommended restrictions on visitation to essential care only. Currently, Deutsches Altenheim is limiting visitations by family and friends to end-of-life situations or other visits deemed necessary for a resident’s emotional well-being or personal care. Essential visits from families are determined on an individual basis, and management is arranging the setting of these visits to limit potential exposure of other residents and staff. Visits from outside professionals, such as private-duty aides, hospice workers, and visiting nurses, nurse practitioners, and physicians, are also permitted if essential for residents’ care.
- All visitors are required to complete a screening questionnaire and a temperature check when they enter the building.
- Pharmacy and medical supply deliveries are limited to the lobbies of German Centre and Edelweiss Village.
Adjustments to the Campus
Dining: Dining rooms across the campus have been closed. Meals are being delivered to assisted living residents in their apartments and to skilled nursing patients and residents in their rooms.
For residents requiring assistance with eating, small supervised groups on the nursing units have been trained to utilize appropriate precautions in providing that assistance.
Activities Programs: All programming with outside providers has been suspended. Activities staff is working diligently and creatively to engage nursing unit residents one-on-one and assisted living residents in small groups of no more than four people at a time. We are practicing social distancing by maintaining a distance of six feet between individuals, including staff and residents, whenever possible.
Senior Place: Adult Day Health services have been suspended, effective March 23, 2020.
New Patient Admissions
As a skilled nursing facility, German Centre regularly admits patients for inpatient rehabilitation services. When admitting patients during the outbreak, we will follow enhanced screening procedures, per CDC recommended protocols. Referring hospitals are required to document that a patient has been thoroughly screened for symptoms of COVID-19 or, if tested, yielded a negative result.
We are authorized to deny admission to any patient with known or suspected COVID-19, based on the following criteria:
- No or insufficient availability of proper precaution equipment;
- Inability to restrict patient to their room;
- Inability to ensure patient will wear facemask or cover mouth and nose with tissues if they must leave their room;
- Inability to provide single room or cohort with other suspected COVID-19 patient;
- Unable to dedicate health care providers to work only with COVID-19 patients.
In the 105 years that Deutsches Altenheim has been serving the senior community, we have experienced wars, a depression, recessions, and viral and bacterial outbreaks. COVID-19, however, is presenting a unique and daunting challenge. At this time, as always, we are relying on the tireless compassion and relentless ingenuity of our highly-skilled staff to meet our residents’ needs, and every precaution is being taken to ensure the safety of our seniors and our staff. Again, please check our website for coronavirus-related updates—and be well!
Michael B. Lincoln, Chief Executive Officer
Download the update: March 20 Coronavirus Update