When we first started hearing about Risk Mitigation, the first question most people asked was, “What does that mean?” Basically, this refers to the steps we are taking to reduce the risk of exposing our staff and residents to COVID-19. We’d like to share with you what we’ve been doing so far.
Essential Worker Monitoring: Before anyone is permitted to enter the Nursing Home, they must be screened for signs and symptoms of illness. This includes taking their temperatures before they enter the building, asking if they have been out of the country in the past 14 days and/or in contact with anyone with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID. We also ask and observe to see if they have a new cough, sore throat or shortness of breath. Anyone who cannot answer “no” to all of the questions is not permitted to enter the building. Staff have been instructed to stay home if they are ill and to report signs or symptoms of illness if they develop during their shift.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): All staff are wearing facemasks as “source control” since, as we know, we can be carriers of the virus for up to two weeks before experiencing any symptoms. Direct Care staff (nurses and nursing assistants) are also wearing “eye protection” (either face shields or safety glasses) and surgical as added protection since they are in close contact with residents and each other.
New Resident Isolation: All new residents are admitted to private rooms and quarantined for 14 days. This means they must stay in their room until we are certain they do not have COVID. Staff take extra precautions when caring for these residents, including wearing gowns and gloves for all cares as well as for social visits. This requirement for isolation also applies to current residents returning to the Home who have been away for any reason other than a scheduled or emergency medical appointment.
Resident Monitoring: Twice each day all residents are screened for signs of new cough or fever, new shortness of breath, or a sore throat, and their temperature is taken and recorded. Their pulse rate and oxygen levels are also taken and recorded at this time. If a resident develops any of these symptoms, we are required to isolate them immediately. If the resident is already in a private room, this will simply mean using the precautions listed above for “new residents.” If the residents has a roommate, we are required to move the ill resident immediately to a private room and initiate isolation precautions. These precautions will remain in effect until COVID test results return and are negative.
Dining and Activities: All meals are currently served in residents’ rooms. Staff are available to help those who need assistance with eating or dining supervision. Residents are encouraged to wear cloth face masks if they come out of their rooms. Group activities are no longer permitted. The most we are permitted to do at this time is “hallway activities” such as calling Bingo over the loud speaker while residents sit in or near their bedroom doorways.
Infection Control Practices: Our staff have always been trained in infection control practices and follow established protocols based on that training. As an extra precaution, we are also conducting ongoing audits to ensure compliance and offer additional training if needed. Housekeeping is doing additional disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces such as handrails, light switches and door handles. All shared resident equipment (such as lifts) are cleaned between used by different residents.
Visitor Restriction: All visitor restrictions continue except for end-of-life “compassionate care” visits.
Prayer: The Sisters and many of the Residents and Tenants are praying that our Home will be protected from the dangers of COVID-19. We ask you to join us in prayer for our Residents, Tenants, their families and for all people everywhere during this most challenging time. God bless you and keep you safe!