November 19, 2021, Letter to Friends and Families
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has lifted many of the pandemic visiting restrictions still in place at nursing homes. The new guidance instructs nursing homes to allow visits at all times.
Our main goal throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been to provide high-quality care and to keep your loved ones safe. We follow guidance from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) and CMS as well as the latest COVID-19 infection control guidance with relation to its impact on our residents and visitors.
Visitations are no longer restricted in our building as long as visitors pass screenings. Certain core principles and best practices will be followed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission:
- Visitors who have a positive viral test for COVID-19, symptoms of COVID-19, or currently meet the criteria for quarantine, should not enter the facility. Our facility will screen all who enter for these visitation exclusions using our Accushield Kiosk. We ask that each visitor log into the Kiosk to complete the screening and also wear the printed visitor badge during your visit, then see the receptionist before going up to the unit.
- Hand hygiene (use of alcohol-based hand rub is preferred)
- Face covering or mask (covering mouth and nose) and physical distancing at least six feet between people, in accordance with the CDC.
- Instructional signage throughout the facility and proper visitor education on COVID- 19 signs and symptoms, infection control precautions, other applicable facility practices (e.g., use of face covering or mask, specified entries, exits and routes to designated areas, hand hygiene)
- Cleaning and disinfecting high-frequency touched surfaces in the facility often, and designated visitation areas after each visit
- Appropriate staff use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
- Effective cohorting of residents (e.g., separate areas dedicated to COVID-19 care)
These core principles are consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance for nursing homes, and should be adhered to at all times.
Visitation can be conducted through different means based on a facility’s structure and a residents’ needs, such as in resident rooms, dedicated visitation spaces, and outdoors. Please refer to our updated visitation guide.
Appointments or Out of Building Theraputic Leave
Family members are allowed to take their loved ones on appointments if able or out of the building for outings provided the resident has a therapeutic leave. Our main goal is the safety of your loved one as well as all others in our building. If everyone abides by the infection control guidelines, we can keep our residents safe and they can enjoy family time! Please understand while we are moving forward with managing COVID 19, it still is out there in the community and that is how it can be brought back into our building.
Therapeutic Leave (TL) guidelines will also need to be followed, ie physician’s order to permit therapeutic leave, advance notice to have medications prepared, notice by the responsible party of who is permitted to take a resident out on TL for residents who are not capable of making this decision for themselves. Is training needed on for the persons taking the resident out related to safe car transfers and other care issues? Also medications if needed when the resident is out of the building will need to be ordered in advance and packaged by pharmacy for therapeutic leaves.
We ask that you provide us with plenty of notice prior to scheduling a short outing with a minimum of seventy two hours (72). Please remember that a long time has passed since residents have gone out so things like car transfer status may have changed. Assessing if your loved one can safely handle car transfer and training for you on how to get your loved one safely into the care may need to be done. Getting this process rolled out smoothly will take time.
Residents who leave our building for twenty four hours or longer will be assessed for the need to be quarantined upon returned based on risk assessment which includes community transmission rates and risks associated during the outside visit.
We ask that for now, you contact Amber Ferranti, Director of Social Services or Bryon Wyant, Social Workers as the point person to get short therapeutic leaves started for your family member. Amber can be reached at 570-344-6177 extension 1154 or firstname.lastname@example.org – or Bryon at extension 1139 or email@example.com, Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. They are the point persons with our clinical team to get the process started.
Vaccinations are proven to curb the spread of the variant and are a matter of safety as well as compliance with the federal government’s mandated vaccines for health care workers at Medicare and Medicaid facilities.
As of November 18, 2021, our vaccination rate for our active residents is 95% and staff is 100%, for a total of 98.3% of our facility fully vaccinated. All non-vaccinated/staff or new staff tested this week have had negative results.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health recently released resources to help providers continue to encourage vaccine-hesitant residents and staff to consider the COVID-19 vaccine. The Department has developed a series of new vaccine hesitancy materials to help you and your team can leverage in your vaccine outreach efforts including:
- vaccine outreach toolkit for long-term care facilities,
- education one-pager for SNFs and AL/PC communities,
- COVID-19 vaccination rate thermometer to track your progress
Learn more about vaccine facts vs. myths with a downloadable PDF, blog and video blog, which are linked from our website’s COVID-19 page. Visitations are monitored and controlled based on the CDC’s county view data tracker.
Our Facility’s Resident Impact (since the federal government issued reporting requirements
on May 8, 2020, through November 18, 2021):
0 – Residents currently in our building with a confirmed active case of COVID 19
57 – CONFIRMED: Residents with laboratory positive COVID-19
0 – SUSPECTED: Residents with new suspected COVID-19
54 – Confirmed Staff Total: with a positive COVID-19
- Please note that test results are reported on our daily call-in line at 570-207-6711. Family members and all others impacted by the virus will be contacted directly and provided with results and updates.
Your cooperation and partnership in maintaining a safe environment for you, your loved one and our staff is appreciated. Visitors that are not able to adhere to the infection control requirements during visitation will be requested to leave.
As always, we appreciate that you entrust us with the care of your loved ones. If you have any questions, we are always available for you. Thank you again.
Mary Rose Applegate, MBA, RD, NHA