The holidays are behind us. We certainly didn’t have our typical celebrations, but we managed to make the best of an irregular situation campus-wide. A new year means a new beginning.
The vaccine is on its way! Next week we begin the first round of vaccine clinics. Edelweiss Village is first up on January 11th followed immediately by German Centre on January 13th. The vaccine will be offered to all residents, short-term patients and staff across the campus. It’s a very exciting time and we hope to have a large percentage of both staff and residents ready and willing to receive the vaccine. Because there is some apprehension about the vaccine, we developed an awareness campaign illustrating why we receive the vaccine. You can view it here.
Deutsches Altenheim has not been immune to the spike in coronavirus cases in Massachusetts. Over the month of December, five staff members across the campus tested positive for COVID-19. No sooner had the last of those cases cleared when a long-term resident and a short-term patient at German Centre tested positive for the virus. In all cases, we implemented extensive contact tracing, affected staff were placed on medical leave for two weeks, and test-positive residents were placed in quarantine.
While it is difficult – and scary – to have test-positive cases on our campus, the good news is that we were able to identify cases before the virus spread throughout the campus thanks to our rigorous surveillance testing schedule.
We held a rousing Christmas party this year. Several clients arrived with musical instruments in tow and we had a Christmas singalong complete with pizza, eggnog and a Christmas log. The party also doubled as a farewell to 30-year employee, Francesca, who retired but will be on hand as needed. Thanks for your dedication to the community’s seniors Francesca!
As noted above, two COVID-positive cases among our seniors came to light during routine surveillance testing. The individuals were housed on different floors when the test results returned. We immediately created a quarantine section on one unit and the individuals were moved for the safety of the rest of our population. We added a few extra beds in the quarantine section “just in case” and fortunately have not had to use them. One individual has been removed from quarantine and returned to the short-term unit. Due to pre-existing health conditions, the other individual remains in quarantine until cleared by a physician.
As a result of creating a quarantine section, some of our long-term residents were relocated, hopefully for a very short time. Without exception, they were very understanding and helpful. We have done our best to re-create their original rooms for them. Once again, I am impressed by the resilience these seniors have demonstrated time and time again.
Until the campus is clear of positive cases, per DPH guidelines, all family visits must take place outdoors, weather permitting. Fortunately for German Centre visitors, our covered outdoor patio was recently outfitted with a heating unit. While not “toasty,” it make visits more comfortable. Virtual visits are ongoing to supplement or replace in-person visits.
Small group (5-6 individuals) activities continue and the dining room is open to modified seating. Both allow for socially-distanced socializing, which is the number one priority for residents.
Residents are eagerly anticipating the arrival of the vaccine on Monday. Resident vaccines are provided by consulting personnel and will be administered in the apartment’s doorway in an effort to avoid outsiders into each residence.
Edelweiss Village winter stay offer is coming to a close later this month. It’s a wonderful opportunity to see what our community is like and to have someone else handle all the worries of cooking, cleaning, laundry and snow-clearing. With so much to worry about this winter, feel free to contact us for more details on how we can help you or your loved one this winter.
A Final Thought
Preparing for the long-awaited vaccine clinics has been an exciting challenge. A challenge because many of our staff are resistant to the vaccine for a variety of personal, cultural or religious reasons. Exciting, however, because it has given me many opportunities to engage in dialogue with staff to hear – and address – their concerns. I enjoy meeting with members of our team; oftentimes the conversations give a much-needed reality check.
Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2021.
Stay safe and be well,
Michael B. Lincoln
Download the UPDATE: January 8 Update