Happy July! Last year at this time, we were seeing marked declines in COVID-19 cases across the state of Massachusetts. On our campus, tight restrictions remained in place but spirits, overall, were getting brighter. Today in Massachusetts, even though test-positive cases remain low, there has been a rise due to the highly-contagious Delta variant.
On July 12, German Centre received notification from one of our contracted providers that a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. The provider had regularly visited one Schrafft Pavilion resident. In accordance with CMS guidelines, German Centre immediately initiated outbreak testing of all German Centre residents, patients, and staff, regardless of their vaccination status. Additionally, indoor visitation to all areas and group activities were suspended, pending test results.
The outcome of the first round of testing was incredibly encouraging – no positive results! Both unaffected areas – Anna Bauer Wing and Ludwig Transitional Care Unit – re-established indoor visitations and group activities. Schrafft Pavilion – the affected area –continues to follow outbreak testing protocol and indoor visitations have been suspended until July 26.
Mandating the Vaccine
At Deutsches Altenheim, our mission has been, and always will be, to provide the highest quality care possible to seniors in the community. To that end, we will do whatever it takes to keep our residents safe and healthy. Legacy Lifecare, Deutsches Altenheim’s management company, took a bold step in June to announce a vaccine mandate for all employees.
“We hope our announcement will be a springboard for others,” said Adam Berman, Legacy Lifecare’s President and Chief Executive in an interview with the Boston Globe. Citing the recent decision by the state’s largest hospital systems to mandate the vaccine for its employees, coupled with a rise in cases by the fast-spreading Delta variant, Adam felt confident the move was necessary. “Simply put, implementing this mandate is the only way we can fully protect our staff and our residents,” said Adam. “I absolutely believe it’s the right decision for us.”
It’s widely known that senior care communities are currently experiencing a severe labor shortage. Legacy Lifecare’s leadership team initially feared the decision to mandate the vaccine would potentially cause employees to leave, exacerbating that shortage. “We certainly know there is the [labor] risk here,” Adam said in the Boston Globe interview. “But at the same time, the risks associated with the delta variant, specifically, it’s incumbent upon us to make the hard decision.”
The vaccine mandate will be implemented once the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) grants final approval of one of the three vaccines. Since the announcement, several other Massachusetts senior care communities have followed Legacy Lifecare’s lead in mandating the vaccine among its employees.
Sullivan Family Establishes Two Scholarships for Rising CNTs
Our certified nursing technicians (known as CNAs elsewhere in the industry) are the backbone of our front-line team. Those interested in this rewarding career path are oftentimes met with barriers to entry, including costly training requirements. At Deutsches Altenheim, and across the Legacy Lifecare family, we are hoping to fix that by providing on-site, paid training opportunities through a new Trained Nursing Assistant (TNA) Program.
Members of the Sullivan Family—whose mother Barbara Sullivan called the Altenheim home for more than a decade—are supporting Deutsches Altenheim in this important work. They have generously established the Sullivan-Walsh Trained Nursing Assistant Scholarship Fund to sponsor scholarships for two TNAs, each year, to cover the costs of their CNA (CNT) training and testing.
They have chosen to name one of the scholarships the Barbara P. Sullivan Memorial Nursing Assistant Scholarship, in memory of their mother and an in honor of her 38-year career as a nurse at the former St. Margaret’s Hospital in Dorchester.
They have named the second scholarship The Mary Ellen Walsh Honorary Nursing Assistant Scholarship in honor of Mary Ellen and her years of dedication to the Altenheim and its residents, including her kind and compassionate support of their mother and their entire family.
Deutsches Altenheim will award the scholarships annually to two TNAs who reflect the values of compassion, integrity, commitment, and humility that both Barbara P. Sullivan and Mary Ellen Walsh embodied throughout their careers.
An important reminder for German Centre families to join us at the next virtual Town Hall on Thursday, July 29th. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for login info.
A Final Thought
As the preceding stories reveal, we are definitely not out of the woods with COVID-19. We fully appreciate the frustrating and, at times, confusing information we all must digest on a daily basis. There are no words of wisdom – only words of caution: Mask or Vax. Your life, or that of someone you love, may depend upon it.
Stay safe, be well and get vaccinated,
Michael B. Lincoln
Download the UPDATE: July 2021