Living through a global pandemic has been challenging for everyone, but it’s a situation that has brought about particular concerns for those of us caring for residents of assisted living and skilled nursing facilities, those living in these facilities, and loved ones of those residents.
At USA Healthcare, we have done our absolute best to adapt, adjust, and protect our residents and staff, and COVID-19 infection control is still at the top of our priority list. We all hope we can put this serious health crisis behind us completely soon, but until we get to that point, here’s more information about how we continue to handle the pandemic at our facilities in order to keep everyone healthy and happy.
Older adults living in congregate settings are at high risk of being significantly affected by COVID-19. A strong infection prevention and control program is critical to protect both residents and healthcare personnel.
Since the pandemic is an ongoing and ever changing situation, we have staff members who are constantly accessing the situation at our facilities, making recommendations, and adjusting our policies as needed.
This includes making sure that our health care workers and others at our facilities have the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE). This also includes items such as alcohol-based hand sanitizer and supplies for cleaning and disinfection. You will find hand sanitizers in many locations throughout our facilities, including inside and outside resident rooms and in common areas, such as dining rooms and therapy rooms.
Education & Training
Again, changes related to COVID-19 are common, so it’s crucial that we provide education and training often. This means educating our staff and health care workers regarding CDC changes and recommendations about best practices to prevent the spread of the disease. This also involves educating residents and visitors about current precautions being taken at our facilities.
The CDC continues to stress the importance of getting vaccinated when possible. We are providing access to the vaccine to our residents and staff, as well as offering vaccine clinics to the community.
Creative Plans for Visitation
While in person visitation may be possible with the use of masks and distancing, in many situations we have to get more creative in order to make sure our residents are able to stay in touch with the ones they love. The mental health of our residents is extremely important to us, so our nurses and staff members are willing to do whatever it takes to make visitation possible in some form or fashion.
We are so thankful for our iN2L tablets that allow for video chatting and other social interactions. These have been such a wonderful resource at our facilities during the pandemic.
Another aspect of our facilities that we are so thankful for is our many beautiful outdoor gathering areas. Whether it’s the garden setting with benches, planters, and lawn areas at the Folsom Center, covered porches with swings and rocking chairs at Adams Health and Rehab, or the large covered areas at Decatur Health and Rehab, we have opportunities for outside visitation at our facilities.
When it comes to visitation in person, we also ask that no family member or friend visit if they have had a recent positive test for COVID-19, if they have symptoms of COVID-19, or if they currently meet the criteria for quarantine.
Testing is a great tool for identifying cases of COVID-19 among staff and residents. While each situation may be unique, typically anyone with even mild symptoms of COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, receives a viral test as soon as possible or at the appropriate time based on exposure (not earlier than 2 days after the exposure and, if negative, again 5 to 7 days after the exposure).
We ask that our nurses and other staff members not come to work if they are symptomatic, even if they test negative, in order to minimize the risk of transmission of COVID-19 and other infectious pathogens, such as influenza.
Increased Evaluation of Residents
While our residents are always monitored regularly, especially at our skilled nursing facilities where we have around the clock nursing care, we have increased monitoring and evaluation in light of COVID-19. This includes talking with residents regularly about possible symptoms and checking for fever. Assessment of oxygen saturation via pulse oximetry is also being performed more often.
However, it’s been shown that older adults with COVID-19 infections may not have common symptoms such as fever or respiratory symptoms, so we are looking for less common symptoms as well, including new or worsening malaise, headache, new dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of taste or smell.
Many of our facilities have spacious common areas, including living rooms, dining rooms, and outdoor spaces. We are able to allow residents to enjoy these areas and even interact with others while maintaining social distancing as necessary. We are thankful to have this space where we can spread out tables and seating options.
For people of all ages, having to go through isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19 can pose mental health challenges. This is, of course, very true for senior adults who need community and interaction.
We take each confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 very seriously, but we also recognize that we cannot always treat each case in exactly the same way. Many of our resident rooms are single occupancy, which can be helpful for isolation and quarantine. While the recommendation from the CDC is to keep doors closed and limit any contact, there may be cases when this is not safe or appropriate, including for residents in our memory care units. In such cases as this when doors may need to remain open and more regular contact may be needed, we have other strategies to help us minimize the spread of the disease.
We will always consider the unique needs of our residents and treat them in a kind, compassionate way.
At USA Healthcare, we look forward to getting to know you and your family and helping you get the answers you need when it comes to the best care options for your loved ones.
Contact us at USA Healthcare to discuss our long-term and short-term care facilities and options. We’re here for you!