Dear Residents and Families,
With the summer gone and fall well under way, we wanted to provide you with an update on our organization and our continued response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our staff, our strict adherence to MA DPH and CDC guidelines, and your cooperation, we have been successful at stopping the spread of COVID in our residences. No long-term residents in our nursing homes have tested positive in many months, a positive sign that our infection control processes are effective at containing this highly contagious disease.
We are happy to see more activity in our residences as we balance resident engagement and quality of life with appropriate safety measures. In June, we rejoiced at the return of our families for in-person visits. In our assisted living residences, our dining halls are now open for residents to dine together and have lively conversations while we continue to follow social distancing rules. We have witnessed amazing creativity from our families and community to celebrate birthdays and important milestones. The drive-by parades, live-streamed concerts, and window visits brighten all our lives. Truly, the resilience of our community continues to inspire us and provide us with hope.
However, as the state and country brace for another potential wave of COVID-19, we want to assure you that we are doing everything we can to take the hard lessons from the spring and better prepare for what may come. Here are some of the updated protocols and procedures we have implemented based on the latest guidance from state and federal health experts to ensure the continued safety of our residents, families, and staff. Our goal is to be proactive and transparent as possible.
Infection Prevention Procedures
We continue to take every precaution that we can to protect the health and safety of our residents and staff and prevent the spread of COVID-19. We strictly follow all MA DPH, CDC, EOEA, and other state and federal regulations to maintain effective infection control, at times taking even more precautions than is required. These measures include but are not limited to:
- Daily monitoring and screening of residents and staff for signs of an infection including several temperature checks throughout the day
- A family visitation policy that allows in-person visits with strict infection control procedures only for residents who have never been infected or have recovered from COVID-19
- Universal mask protocol for all staff while working in the facility
- Additional staff training and audits to ensure compliance with infection control practices
- Regular evaluation of air quality and maintenance of ventilation systems in all buildings
- Extra stockpiles of PPE to ensure adequate supply is on hand
- Acceptance of new admissions only after testing negative for COVID-19 and quarantining and testing them again once admitted
- Frequent cleaning and disinfection of common areas and spaces
Stringent Surveillance Testing of Staff
We continue to conduct stringent surveillance testing of our staff members. Surveillance testing of all staff is mandatory. As we continue to test, we anticipate that we will find a few isolated positive cases. This is expected and a sign that our testing program is effective in detecting positive cases early before the virus spreads in our residences. Finding one positive case triggers immediate testing of all residents and staff weekly until no new cases are found for 14 days.
Procedures Should a Resident or Staff Member Test Positive
We want you to be aware of the steps we will take to minimize the spread of the virus In the event that a person tests positive.
Isolation, Contact Tracing and Testing
Should a resident test positive, we will move and isolate the resident in a designated COVID-positive area where they can be cared for appropriately in accordance with DPH guidelines. Staff members who test positive will be instructed to quarantine at home until recovered. We will conduct contact tracing immediately to identify anyone potentially exposed in order to quarantine. All residents and staff in the building will also undergo frequent testing until no new positive cases are found for 14 days.
Resident and Family Notification
The primary contact of residents who either test positive or are exposed to the virus will be notified via a phone call by the clinical team to share the status and plan. Residents of the same building not exposed and their families will be sent an email to notify them of the situation and any impact to them. In addition, our website will contain up-to-date information of the status of COVID-19 in our buildings.
Suspension of Indoor Visits
State and federal regulations require us to suspend indoor visits in the event of a positive case in the building. Already scheduled visits will automatically be converted to outdoor visits, weather permitting. We will also do our best to extend outdoor visits by using tents and outdoor heaters as long as possible.
In the event of a cancellation of an in-person visit, you will receive a phone call and email to notify you. We also encourage our families to sign up for virtual visits when in-person is not available. We thank you in advance for your understanding as we balance the desire for in-person time with your loved ones with our need to keep everyone safe.
Ongoing Communication with Our Families
We will be sending update letters and pertinent information on a biweekly basis. These letters will also be posted on our website. If you have other family members who wish to get timely updates, please ask them to sign up on our website to be included in our distribution list.
Your feedback is incredibly important to us, and we have made many significant changes based on your comments. We urge you to fill out the family communication survey or email us directly at DAemails@germancentre.org. We truly appreciate your support and wish you good health this winter.
CEO of Legacy Lifecare