March 26, 2021
We finally have sunshine today! What a welcome change from the rain and cooler temperatures earlier in the week. And speaking of welcome changes, I have more information that I think you will be excited to learn about.
Yesterday afternoon, the Department of Health and Senior Services issued updated guidance to all Missouri licensed facilities. It streamlines, consolidates, and replaces all previous guidance on visitation, community reopening, beauty & barber services, communal dining, group activities, and resident outings. Recognizing Missouri’s lower COVID-19 positivity rates and increasing vaccination rates, the updated guidance is our State’s attempt to balance still-needed infection control and resident quality of life.
The team is currently working through the updated guidance and creating new policies around it. Early next week I will have specifics to share with you. But, for now, just know I think you will be extremely happy.
A communication from me would not be complete without an update on weekly testing. We tested residents and associates this week, and there were NO positive results from either group!
The renovations in Assisted Living and Memory Care 1 are progressing nicely.
- By the end of today, we will have the Garden nurses station and medication room, 200 hall restroom and laundry room complete. The corridor for apartments 209 – 215 is nearly complete. Pendant lights, memory boxes, signage, and artwork are next!
- Memory Care 1 common area: The corridors, dining, kitchen, sunroom, and common areas all have been painted, new carpet in the sunroom has been laid, and the new furniture completes the plan.
- Next week we will relocate the Southview/Manor nurses station to apartments 119 and 115 so it can undergo a complete overhaul. Also next week, the work to the porte-cochere will continue. We expect both of these areas to take about one month to complete.
Village Care Center
There have been no new cases of COVID-19 reported. Administrator Anthony Columbatto was interviewed on KCTV5’s “Better KC” show this week to share about some of the cutting-edge technology we are using in the Village Care Center to help keep people safe and give the best possible care to the residents and patients at the VCC. I think you’ll enjoy learning about it. If you’d like to see that portion of the show, click here.
There have been NO new cases of COVID-19 reported.
I look forward to sharing more information with you early next week about the updated guidance from DHSS. Until that time, please do not hesitate to let me know if you have questions or have feedback.
What a great week it has been, thus far!
On Monday we started in-person visits in resident apartments, and the happiness that ensued is still palpable today. I hope the enjoyment that comes from this change in our visitation process is a wave we can ride for quite some time.
Here are a few thoughts on making sure visits go smoothly:
- Assisted Living families (non-memory care) visiting on weekdays after 5 p.m., and on Saturdays and Sundays: Please call 347-2723 or 347-2702 to let the team know you have arrived and wish to visit your loved one. There may be a brief wait until a direct caregiver comes to let you in the building; if your wait is longer than five minutes, please call us back. Likewise, you will need to contact a staff member as you are getting ready to leave, so you can be let out of the building.
- One final note on inside visitation: Please continue to wear your masks during the entire duration of the visit, even if you have been completely immunized. The science on just how much the virus prevents or limits transmission of COVID-19 is still new. And at this point, if wearing a mask is all we are asked to do to keep everyone safe, I would say that’s a pretty easy ask.
I didn’t send an email last week about the results of the resident and associate testing performed because I was so thrilled about being able to begin in-room visitation! So, to backtrack a bit, last week’s results were great. Here are the details:
- March 9 and 11 we tested associates; all results were negative.
- March 10 we tested all residents; all results were negative.
- This week we have tested all residents; results were negative there, too.
- Tomorrow, March 18, we will conduct weekly testing of our team, and I will keep you apprised of those results.
The renovations to Assisted Living and Memory Care 1 are continuing to go well. I have heard many comments from families about the status of the projects, and all feedback has been great! For those family members who do not have a loved one in either of these locations, next week I will have pictures to show you of both areas!
Thank you for your patience as we slowly begin to move forward from our current visiting restrictions. I am so pleased with the progress made thus far in 2021. Let’s keep doing inside visitation safely so we can continue to see progress with restrictions being lifted.
March 12, 2021
The time is upon us to discuss the details of visitation!
In case you missed yesterday’s announcement, thanks to new guidance issued this week by the CDC and by CMS* we are allowed to start in-person indoor visits on Monday, March 15. This is great news!
There are, naturally, some guidelines so that we can keep safety and infection control precautions in place.
Outdoor visitation is still the preferred method of visitation, regardless of the vaccination status of residents or visitors. Outdoor visitation may generally continue regardless of our outbreak status or county positivity rate. Residents on transmission-based precautions, either due to suspected or confirmed infection, or due to quarantine, are still restricted from visitation regardless of vaccination status until transmission-based precautions have been discontinued.
Indoor visitation has been revised significantly. The new guidance has adjusted restrictions related to county COVID-19 positivity rates and outbreak status, as outlined below. As noted above, residents on transmission-based precautions are still restricted from visitation, regardless of vaccination status, until transmission-based precautions have been discontinued.
- Indoor Visitation – County Positivity Rate. Indoor visitation may now take place regardless of the county positivity rate, with one exception: residents who are not fully vaccinated are restricted from indoor visitation if the county positivity rate is greater than 10% and fewer than 70% of the facility’s total resident population has been vaccinated.
- If the county positivity rate is less than 10%, or if more than 70% of the facility’s total resident population has been vaccinated, unvaccinated residents may enjoy indoor visitation.
- Fully vaccinated residents may enjoy indoor visitation regardless of county positivity rate and the vaccination rate of the total facility’s resident population.
- Indoor Visitation – Outbreak. Indoor visitation may now occur during an outbreak according to the following processes and parameters:
- If one positive case has been identified among staff or one facility-onset case among residents (outbreak), indoor visitation is immediately suspended, and the facility must initiate outbreak testing protocols.
- After one round of outbreak testing of all staff and residents, if the outbreak is found to be contained to a single area, such as a single neighborhood, indoor visitation may resume in the unaffected areas/units. Outbreak testing will continue according to previously outlined requirements.
- If the first round of testing or any subsequent outbreak testing indicate that the outbreak is not contained to a single neighborhood, indoor visitation is restricted for all residents regardless of vaccination status until criteria have been met to discontinue outbreak testing. That is, all residents and staff test negative and 14 days have passed since the last positive test result.
Additional Flexibilities and Considerations
- We will continue to screen all visitors prior to entry. Visitors who have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 infection in the past 14 days will be restricted regardless of the visitor’s vaccination status.
- Visitors should also continue to adhere to core principles of COVID-19 infection prevention including wearing a mask throughout the visit and practicing effective hand hygiene. Visitors will be notified of the risk for exposure during visitation, including appropriate signage regarding current outbreaks.
- Fully vaccinated residents may choose to have physical contact with their visitors provided they are wearing a well-fitting mask and hand hygiene is performed before and after physical contact. Visitors must continue to maintain social distancing from all other residents and staff during the visit.
- CMS permits testing of visitors or inquiries about vaccination status; however, facilities may not require proof of testing or vaccination as a condition of visitation. Similarly, CMS does not require vaccination of surveyors, and facilities must permit entry of the surveyor regardless of vaccination status.
- It is essential to note that testing requirements do not change. Facilities must continue to test all residents and staff regardless of vaccination status in response to signs or symptoms of COVID-19 and in response to an outbreak. Facilities must continue to test all staff routinely based on county positivity rates regardless of vaccination status.
- Additionally, we note that the CDC guidance referenced above encourages unvaccinated residents to delay indoor visitation until they have been fully vaccinated. CDC additionally recommends that both residents and visitors are counseled on risks prior to beginning indoor visitation.
*Please note: These are not to be confused with the OTHER CDC guidance that came out this week: Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People, which does not apply to healthcare settings.
We look forward to seeing you next week and answering any questions you may have about the changes in visitation.
Don’t forget: Daylight Savings Time begins at 2 a.m. Sunday, so don’t forget to “spring ahead” by setting your clocks forward 1 hour Saturday night, and change the batteries in your smoke detectors!
March 11, 2021
Yesterday the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued new visitation guidance, and it’s news you are sure to love!
On March 14, 2020, our doors were closed to visitors and our residents were encouraged to not leave the facility due to the potentially devastating impacts the newly discovered COVID-19 virus could have on our residents.
Almost exactly one year later, on the evening of March 10, 2021, CMS released updated its visitation guidance – and it is the update we have all been waiting for!
In short, we can have visits inside resident apartments now! Tomorrow I will share more details, but I wanted to make sure you are aware of this change and that it will be implemented on Monday, March 15. This means no more Signup-Genius links and that visiting hours will be extended from 8am – 8pm!
For those families who have been with us since the pandemic began, and for those families who have joined us amidst the pandemic, thank you all for your confidence in us to care for your loved one during this unprecedented time.
It has been a long road, but we are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. First the vaccine, now apartment visits. We have made significant amount of progress in the first few months of 2021. I cannot wait to see what good things the rest of 2021 has in store for us.
March 8, 2021
My last communication was on Feb. 26, so I’d like to fill you in on all that has happened since then.
While I was not here most of the week last week, I understand the inside visits last week went very well. It continues to be so heartwarming to see the smiles in everyone’s eyes before, during, and after the visits.
In my last email, I shared that CMS and the CDC were working on new guidance for how long-term care facilities might move forward toward re-opening. The newly-released CDC guidance you may see in the news today only addresses those in the general public who are fully vaccinated; it does not apply to an assisted living setting. We are waiting on pins and needles for our turn. I can’t wait to share the updated guidance with you just as soon as I can!
- March 1: We tested all staff and vendors, and all results were negative!
- March 2: All residents in Assisted Living and Memory Care were tested, and all results were negative! We will continue to test residents each Tuesday.
- March 4: We tested all staff and vendors, and all results were negative.
Because the COVID-19 positive test rates in Jackson County have dropped to less than 10%, we are now reducing the number of times we test associates to one time per week. We will continue testing vendors twice a week for the duration of the renovation project.
Assisted Living Renovations
The assisted living renovations continue to progress nicely and ahead of schedule. All common area ceilings, with the exception of the main nurses’ station, have been scraped, and the baseboards, handrails, and door frames have been removed, as have the corridor light fixtures.
The picture below shows a portion of the corridor between apartments 209 -215 complete with new carpet, light fixtures and a primer coat of paint on the resident doors. This area is not complete, as it still needs pendant light fixtures, baseboards, memory boxes, and wayfinding signage. But even at this point, it’s looking pretty great to me!
This picture shows the newly-floored Garden Room. The floor is laid in a herringbone-style for a touch of visual interest.
Memory Care 1 Renovations
The work in Memory Care 1 continues to move along nicely, with the north and south hallways and the sunroom being painted. This week we are working in the common area, carefully taping and priming those areas while being mindful of breakfast, lunch, and activity times. We anticipate the work will be complete in about two weeks.
The photograph below is of the south hallway that leads to the sunroom. The light fixtures have been replaced and new LED bulbs provide a lovely glow to the area.
Village Care Center
I am sorry to report that the Village Care Center has had a new COVID+ case in their Village Rehabilitation Unit. All appropriate procedures are being followed, including isolation, and as such, they believe there is very little risk of exposure to other VRU patients and zero chance of exposure to the memory care or long-term care neighborhoods. Unfortunately, this means they have to return to outdoor visits only until they reach 14 days with no new positive cases, but the good news is they have been able to expand their outdoor visiting opportunities, and the weather is nice.
Look for another update from me at the end of the week. Until then, take care, and let me know if there’s anything you may need.