I hope all is well with you and you are enjoying the remnants of an incredibly unusual summer.
As mentioned in my July 17 UPDATE, baseline testing of all German Centre staff was implemented per Dept. of Public Health (DPH) requirements. Currently, we are conducting bi-weekly random sampling of 30% of our staff. Across the campus, no residents or staff are positive for COVID-19.
After months of virtual-only visits, in-person visits are often the highlight of many residents’ week. We are fortunate that our campus is well-suited to taking advantage of the outdoors, which is a requirement. Since early June, we have held over 700 in-person visits and more than 500 Facetime/Skype calls since March. We have expanded our visitation schedule to accommodate a growing demand for in-person visits. Take a look at our updated Frequently Asked Questions for, among other items, the revised visitation schedule.
For the past few years, nursing recruitment in long-term care has been challenging, to say the least. German Centre was no exception. The pandemic also sidelined some members of our nursing staff with underlying medical conditions. Recently, those staff members have returned and we have seen an increase in applications and the resultant hiring of both nurses and certified nursing technicians. Very good news during a difficult period of time.
This month we began offering outdoor activities, weather permitting. The ice cream social with entertainment sponsored by a family member was an especially big hit! The Bierstube is getting lots of activity with socially-distanced games of poker and bingo. The raised flower beds on our patio are tended by a cadre of dedicated green thumbs.
It is well-documented that socialization at mealtime has numerous benefits, particularly for seniors. The closing of our dining room in March was difficult for many. Now, nearly six months later, we are reviewing options to safely open our dining room for meals. In order to accommodate the required six-foot distance between residents, participation at each seating will be limited. Undoubtedly, however, the resumption of communal dining will make mealtime more meaningful for our residents – and the dining staff.
We are delighted to say that we officially re-opened on August 3rd. Stringent guidelines are in place for a safe return to services. Initially, only a handful of our approx. 50 participants have returned as we work through compliance with safety protocols. Over time, more participants will be able to join us.
Ironically, the most cumbersome part of the re-opening is the drop-off and pick-up of participants. Program participants and their transporters are not allowed to traverse the public indoor spaces at German Centre. As a result, they must enter Senior Place by way of an outside walking path. It seems old habits are hard to break and we are actively working to inform transportation services about the new guidelines.
A FINAL THOUGHT
As August wanes, it’s a good time for a seasonal flu reminder. An article in the August 17 New York Times, cautions health officials are urging people to get a flu shot this year fearing a “twindemic.” According to the article, flu shares symptoms with COVID-19: fever, headache, cough, sore throat, muscle aches and fatigue. Doctors fear the flu can leave patients vulnerable to a harsher attack of COVID-19. Deutsches Altenheim has already placed its request for flu shot supplies for residents and staff. I urge you to speak with your healthcare provider about getting a flu shot.
Stay safe and be well,
Michael B. Lincoln
Chief Executive Officer
Download the Update: August 21 Update