Nov. 27, 2020
First and foremost, I am so sorry to report that we have lost five additional residents due to complications from COVID-19. This virus continues to cause so much pain and anguish on our families and associates.
Additionally, we have had 10 new residents on the back of our memory care neighborhood test positive for COVID-19. We have transferred them to the front of the memory care neighborhood and where they are being treated for the virus.
We have also had 11 associates test positive for the virus this past week. This number continues to decline, and we have been able to recover most of the team and get them back to work.
Lastly regarding the virus, we have had no new positive test results for the long term care and Village Rehab neighborhoods; this continues to be our silver lining.
Please let me apologize for my delayed communication this week. As you may have seen and heard, we have been a focal point for the local and regional news media outlets the past week. This has taken a lot of time and effort to coordinate with reporters so that we were able to truly share our story. I believe the coverage we have received has been fair, and thorough. They have mostly used our story as a cautionary tale to show the public that this is the end result of the virus numbers in our community spiking. I have included links below to two articles and an editorial column that the Lee’s Summit Tribune allowed me to submit.*
I continue to appreciate all the words and encouragement you continue to show us. I know the team continues to be buoyed by these efforts as they continue to fight the virus.
Here is a summary of the presence of COVID-19 elsewhere at John Knox Village.
- Village Assisted Living. All of their resident re-testing in assisted living came back negative. The resident re-testing in Memory Care 2 (due to a potential exposure Nov. 18) delivered 3 positive results. On Tuesday, their scheduled testing of all associates also yielded 3 positive results. Additional testing of residents who may have been exposed will take place this Friday.
- Independent Living Residents. I am extraordinarily sorry to report that a second Independent Living resident has died due to complications from the COVID-19 virus.
- Associates Outside of VAL/VCC. Additionally, five associates outside of Village Assisted Living and the Village Care Center have now tested positive. These include one each in administration, human resources, dining services, renovations, and emergency medical services. Contact tracing was conducted, and further testing was performed in connection with two cases, but no further positive cases were discovered.
I hope that, to the best of your abilities, you all have a blessed and safe Thanksgiving. I know for many it will look very different this year. I know for many there is one less person at the table this year. My plea is that we pull together to slow the spread and limit how many more empty chairs we may see at next years’ Thanksgiving. As a physician said this week, we are no longer the front lines of this virus. The community is now the front line.
Wear a mask. Stay six feet apart. Help us save lives.
*Sample news media reports about the Village Care Center:
- Fox 4 News – https://fox4kc.com/tracking-coronavirus/lees-summit-care-facility-says-it-has-33-active-cases-of-covid-19-largest-outbreak-in-jackson-county/
- KCUR 89.3 – https://www.kcur.org/health/2020-11-18/john-knox-nursing-home-currently-experiencing-the-biggest-covid-19-outbreak-in-eastern-jackson-county
- The Lee’s Summit Tribune also featured an opinion/editorial written by Anthony Columbatto, Village Care Center administrator. https://lstribune.net/index.php/2020/11/21/we-are-tired-we-are-hurting-we-continue-to-fight/.
Nov. 17, 2020
I want to provide you with an update on our battle with COVID-19. I am beyond sorry to report that we lost 10 more of our beloved residents. We continue to experience how devastating this virus can be on our residents, and it is so difficult to see it happen. I send my deepest condolences to the families, and to our associates who cared for these residents.
Sunday, we had an additional resident test positive on the back of our memory care neighborhood. This continues to perplex us, as all other residents and associates in the neighborhood continue to test negative. The resident and roommate have been moved to the isolation unit per CMS guidelines.
Our silver lining this week is that we have not had any additional long term care residents test positive, so we can discontinue weekly testing for them. We will continue to test all associates weekly.
Additionally, all of the residents and associates on the Village Rehab Unit tested negative last week. This continues to be an encouraging sign that we are nearing the end of this.
On a related note, I am sure you have been hearing a lot of news regarding COVID-19 vaccines and may be wondering how we fit in with this. We are registered with the CDC and have partnered with CVS to be prepared for vaccine distribution to residents and associates as soon as it becomes available. From our current understanding, we will be among the first classifications to receive the vaccine when it is ready for distribution, but we do not have a timeline at this point.
Our story also has become part of the news. Yesterday we were contacted by a reporter from KSHB (Channel 41) who came here early on in the COVID-19 crisis to learn how we were responding to the restrictions brought on by the virus, while still keeping residents cared for and engaged in life. This time she called to because she had heard about the outbreak in our building. The story was well-reported and fair, and we are grateful that she gave us the opportunity to share our story. If you’d like to read or view the report, go to https://bit.ly/38R0qUs. We also were contacted by the Kansas City Star and conducted interviews with them today.
As you know, our direct care workers and managers have fought relentlessly against the virus, while simultaneously putting new energy into increasing family communications and finding new ways to engage our residents. I want to take a moment to personally thank you for all of the kind words and gestures you have shared with our team. One of my favorite examples is a resident’s daughter who called the VCC to ask what her loved one’ caregivers would like from Starbucks, and then delivered them personally. Over this past weekend, two daughters brought breakfast on consecutive days to the associates on our memory care neighborhood. These are just two of the many heartfelt actions which have deeply impacted our associates, many of whom are dealing with very real pain and loss. Thank you.
Lastly, and especially with Thanksgiving looming, I want to continue to urge extreme caution, based on what we are seeing within our area healthcare systems. Hospitals are nearing capacity and are extremely worried about the COVID+ results the pending holiday will bring, given that virus spread during small gatherings are already a significant source of spread. Again, I urge caution for all of us as we make plans. I am sharing this same message with those who work here.
Wear your mask. Stay 6 feet away from those not in your immediate household. Wash your hands.
Nov. 10, 2020
As much as I long to be the bearer of good news, today is not that day. Tragically, we have lost four more residents due to complications from COVID-19. This virus continues to wreak havoc on our infected residents, and we continue to mourn the loss of those we care so deeply for.
The six remaining residents in the front part of Memory Care, who were not infected with the virus, are now COVID+. Our efforts to isolate, deep clean, and cleanse the air did not work. We now are working closely with our physicians to treat them as effectively as possible. As I have mentioned earlier, due to their dementia diagnoses, mask wearing and physical distancing continue to be a challenge, though the team is continually trying new approaches.
Additionally, over the weekend we had our first resident on the back of the memory care neighborhood test positive. This continues to frustrate us, as this area has been closed off to anyone but direct care staff who have all tested negative, and who enter and exit directly from the neighborhood without passing through other parts of the building.
Our one silver lining is that we have not had any new resident or patient cases in our long term care neighborhoods and the Village Rehab Unit.
Lastly, we have had only three new associates test positive for COVID-19 since Nov. 6.
I made mention in my last email that we are working on a plan to allow visitors inside the VCC. We are actively working on this plan with Missouri’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHSS), and will release that plan as soon as we get approval. I know this may sound backwards, to invite visitors during a time of outbreak, but the residents also desperately need their spirits lifted, to help give them the energy to keep fighting.
We also are working on a plan to ensure easier access to information, as I know there has been some frustration with getting routine communication from the nurses, particularly over the weekend, and I hate to add additional anxiety to an already trying time.
The people who work here continue to amaze me. I have seen instance after instance of people jumping in to help, even in the most challenging of circumstances. So many of our associates have volunteered to work nights, weekends, on the isolation units—whatever is needed to help our residents. A few weeks ago, I mentioned a Fred Rogers quote regarding helpers in a time of crisis; I have seen so many people here jumping in to help, and I will be forever grateful for their dedication and compassion. They are tired. They are hurting. They continue to fight. And they, too, need a boost for their spirits. I would welcome notes of encouragement, and any other suggestions you might care to share.
In other parts of the Village, there also has been new activity related to COVID-19.
- Independent Living now has had a total of 4 COVID+ residents, and even more sadly, they now have experienced their first resident death.
- One Emergency Medical Services associate has tested positive after developing symptoms over the weekend.
- One Dining Services associate developed symptoms during the night following their last shift worked. This person had no interaction with residents or associates while working.
Lastly, we have received news that the metropolitan area hospitals are nearing capacity, including ICU beds. Our area is seeing the highest prevalence of new COVID-19 cases since the pandemic started. Please, please be careful out there, not just to protect yourself, but also to protect others. As I always tell our associates: “We before me.” We are all in this together.
Nov. 6, 2020
In my efforts to keep you all as up to date as possible with our current battle with COVID-19, I wanted to send an additional update this week. Sadly, we have lost another four residents due to complications from COVID-19. This virus has caused so much devastation, and we continue to grieve with and for their families during this time of such profound loss.
Additionally, as part of continued routine testing on the 200 side of long-term care neighborhood, we found three new COVID+ residents. All were asymptomatic at the time, and they have been moved to the isolation unit.
We also had three additional residents from the front of memory care test positive for the virus. We still have six residents in that area who have continued to test negative; we are isolating them off of the memory care neighborhood and they are doing well.
Lastly, one patient on the Village Rehab Unit patient tested positive for COVID-19. After contact tracing, it appears the exposure was outside of the VCC.
I am sure many of you are exhausted with the continued spread within the VCC. I know we are very tired. It does appear that the spread is beginning to slow down. We have had the lowest number of new cases since this started six weeks ago. Again, it is the smallest of silver linings, given what we have gone through, but it is a bright spot nonetheless.
I am also happy to report that in testing all other Village Rehab Unit patients, as well as the back of the memory care neighborhood, those results all came back negative. More good news in a world where we haven’t seen good news in a long time.
On Monday we had our eighth infection control survey. Two surveyors from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services spent 10 hours in our building examining all of our COVID-19 policies and procedures. They did not find any deficiencies nor share any concerns about what we are doing. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, in ordinary times this would be great news, but it’s tough to hear when you are so anxious to have more guidance.
Many of you have asked about our plans for visitation during the holidays. I know it is difficult to think about given our current circumstance, but I assure you we are working on a plan to allow for visitors during the holidays and moving forward. I hope to have plans out to you by the middle of next week with details on indoor, in-person visitation. I hope that we are through the worst of our battle and can make this a very real possibility by Thanksgiving.
In other parts of the Village, there is just a smattering of COVID-19 activity. Village Assisted Living has completed their latest rounds of re-testing surrounding a couple of the positive cases announced earlier this month; this testing produced zero new positives. Village Home Health has one associate with extremely limited patient contact who tested positive, Village Assisted Living has reported one positive Fireside associate with no resident contact, and one Independent Living resident has reported a positive test result.
Lastly, many of you have asked if there is anything you can do for us. Our associates continue to work as hard as they can to combat this virus and are tired. Any words of encouragement that you can offer are very welcome. Each kind word, card, or gesture has meant the world to each of us, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Nov. 2, 2020
I wanted to send you a brief update on our battle with COVID-19.
In the days since my last message, we’ve experienced more heartbreak with the loss of three additional residents due to complications from the virus. We are brokenhearted for all of their loved ones and the hurt we know they are experiencing because we feel it too.
I mentioned in my last update that COVID had made it into our memory care neighborhood. We knew when this pandemic began that managing the virus on the memory care neighborhood would be our greatest challenge because it is nearly impossible for our residents to practice social distancing and wear face coverings.
When I wrote on Oct. 28, we had our first 7 confirmed cases; we are now at 35. We implemented new strategies to mitigate the spread, which included isolating the non-COVID+ residents and adding air scrubbers and UV lights to that isolation unit. Sadly, we are not seeing the impact for which we had hoped. We continue to work to keep the remaining 9 residents healthy and remain vigilant in our efforts to keep the virus from making it to the back of the memory care neighborhood.
In a world where we grasp for any comforting news, I must focus on the smallest sliver of silver linings: we have not had any new cases on either side of the long-term care neighborhoods (LTC) nor the Village Rehab Unit. Another blessing is that we have discharged 12 residents back to their homes from the isolation units and closed the 200 isolation unit.
In addition, we have learned of six new COVID+ results from our associates. Once again, they work in a variety of positions throughout the building, and only two appear to be connected to our outbreak.
Finally, I want to make you aware of positive cases in other areas of the Village:
- Village Assisted Living and Memory Care: 3 new resident cases and 3 new associate cases. Per our protocols, the residents have been transferred to the VCC’s isolation unit and are under our care.
- Outside licensed facilities: 3 associates who work in administration, maintenance and communications have tested positive. One is asymptomatic and the other two have exhibited symptoms.
Again, I am so very sorry to deliver such a somber update. I hope to be able to share truly good news in the near future. Until then, we will continue to fight for our residents. Please help us in our efforts. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Stay safe.