October 2020 Village Care Center Updates

Oct. 28, 2020

I am so sorry to report that three more of our residents have passed away from complications due to COVID-19.  Their passing and the associated grief for their loved ones weighs very heavy on our hearts.  I know this news is so heartbreaking to read.  It hurts to report; it hurts even more to be here and see it.

Unfortunately, we continue to find new cases. Yesterday, during routine testing of all residents on the 200-side of the long-term care neighborhood (LTC), we found 7 new COVID+ residents.

Also yesterday, we learned of 1 direct care associate in the memory care neighborhood who tested COVID+.  As a result, we did rapid tests on all residents in the front of the MC neighborhood and had 7 positive results.  Despite all of our efforts, COVID-19 has now infiltrated every neighborhood within the VCC.

In addition to the above associate, since my last update, we have seen 9 new associate cases. They are from all over the building and do not seem to have a relationship to each other.

We have now seen multiple cases in residents and associates in which they have tested negative, and then test positive less than 24-hours later. This is a surprising trend that do not understand and cannot explain. We continue to be astonished by the contagiousness of the virus, and are completely frustrated that our efforts are not yielding the results that we want.  We have tried throwing everything and the kitchen sink at the virus, yet it continues to inflict blow after blow in our building.

I mentioned last week that we had an industrial hygienist come in and make recommendations for improving the environment.  Here are the actions we have taken as a result of this report:

  • Installed air scrubbers on the isolation unit last week and added additional scrubbers for each hall of the 200 side of long-term care
  • The air scrubbers are equipped with HEPA filters
  • Adding special UV lighting
  • Using a third party to deep clean and sanitize the long-term care areas daily

These methods are still being trialed and have not been “proven” to be preventive measures, but we have heard they are working well in other long-term care communities and we are willing to try new approaches.

Finally, I need to share that:

  • 2 residents in Independent Living at the Village have tested positive. One spouse is in the hospital, the other quarantining at home. Public safety is assessing the situation to determine any further actions.
  • 1 Village Assisted Living non-direct care associate tested COVID+  Sunday, Oct. 25. (Tested negative Oct. 22; last worked Oct. 21.) They are not concerned about the spread of the virus from this associate to other associates or residents.

Again, I am so sorry for the continued difficult news coming out of the VCC the past month.  I long for the day where I can share some good news, because that means there is good news for our residents.

Oct. 23, 2020

I wanted to provide an update on our fight with COVID-19.  First and foremost, it pains me to say that we have lost another of our dear residents to the coronavirus.  We are all deeply saddened by this loss and grieve with and for the family.

To update you on our continuing efforts to remain aware of the presence of the virus in our building:

  • 1 patient from the Village Rehab Unit has tested positive.
  • 10 additional associates tested positive for COVID-19, most of whom work in the long term care neighborhoods, and all of whom likely had contact with a COVID+ resident or associate at some point in the past 14 days.  About half are asymptomatic and the other half are experiencing very mild symptoms.
  • Follow-up testing was completed in the 300 and 400 care neighborhoods, with zero new positives.
  • All other associate and resident tests have come back negative.

Many of our associates are recovering and coming back to work.  I am grateful, and hopeful that this will allow some of our managers who have been working extraordinarily long days, nights, and weekends, some much needed rest.  I would like to extend special thanks to Tami Hoversten, Amber Fisher and Cindy Gibson, who have been working tirelessly to combat this horrendous virus.

Village Assisted Living. On Tuesday VAL completed a second round of testing all residents and associates who worked in the week prior. This follow-up testing was due to prior COVID+ results in their buildings. At that time only one additional resident had a positive test result. Four direct care associates tested positive, as well. They are continuing their isolation and containment measures and will continue regular testing, as appropriate.

Elsewhere in the Village. Five associates who work outside of our licensed facilities received positive test results. These include three in dining services who had no, or limited, contact with residents. One is asymptomatic, two had symptoms. Co-workers have been tested and thus far all results received are negative, but some are still pending.

Finally, I hope you will watch this brief video that our President and CEO, Dan Rexroth, recorded earlier this week in response to many of the recent developments on campus. The numbers have changed by now, but his message is a great reminder of the compassion that is at the heart of all we do at John Knox Village.  https://youtu.be/ES3FYx-jPIg

We continue to read and learn, in an effort to understand and adjust our responses to what is happening in this building, as well as what each of us encounters when we go home to our families at the end of the work day.  As a geriatrician in Wisconsin said this week, “We are all woven together as the fabric of this community, and our choices have the potential to have an enormous impact on those around us.”  Stay safe out there.  We will continue to fight in here.

Oct. 19, 2020

I wanted to share a very sad update on our battle with COVID-19. This past week, we have lost four of our beloved residents due to COVID-19.  Before I move forward with more details, I want to extend my deepest condolences to the families impacted by these losses. We are hurting so badly here; I can only imagine what you all are going through.

The situation in our building is continuing to evolve, bringing with it some hopeful news and some less so.

  • On the 200 side of the LTC neighborhood, over the past week 7 additional residents have tested positive. Of these, 4 became symptomatic and were tested right away. The other 3 tested positive this morning as a result of this week’s routine testing and are currently asymptomatic. I am thankful that the rest of the residents on the neighborhood tested negative this morning.
  • The Village Rehabilitation Unit had 1 positive test result from a resident who was showing symptoms.
  • On the 100 side of LTC, we have no new resident cases.
  • We also have none in our memory care neighborhood.
  • Regarding associates, we have had 7 test positive over the past week from various departments.
  • We continue to follow CDC guidance prior to letting associates return to work and on discharging residents from the isolation units.

This past Thursday, we had our sixth infection control survey performed by the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services. They left with no deficiencies or concerns and said we were doing the best we could do. In ordinary times, we would take this as good news. This time, we were really hoping an objective third party would see something we hadn’t seen. That there was a new method that could help us prevent the spread. “You are doing the best you can.” This keeps running through my head. This virus is so destructive and “the best we can” doesn’t seem to be enough right now to defeat the enemy.

With the CDC’s announcement that the virus can be aerosolized, and trends we are hearing about within our industry, we felt this was a good time to bring out an industrial hygienist to see if they could offer suggestions for anything we can do differently to better manage our air quality. We are awaiting their report and hoping they have some good practical recommendations.

We have also been seeing and hearing disturbing trends within the broader area healthcare system. I have mentioned several times that nursing home infections are early indicators of something more broadly happening within the community. Over the weekend learned that our area hospitals are at capacity and are on diversion for new admissions due to COVID-19 (https://www.kansascity.com/news/coronavirus/article246530983.html). Please be careful out there.

This week we hit a mark I had hoped beyond all hope that we would never hit. We grieve. We hurt. We continue to fight.

Oct. 13, 2020

I am writing to report some news on our battle with COVID-19.  Since Friday, we have learned of three new COVID+ residents from the 100 side of the long-term care (LTC) neighborhood.  They have all been moved to the isolation unit.  Thankfully, all other rapid tests from that neighborhood came back negative.

Sadly, we have started to see a new outbreak emerging on the 200 side of the LTC neighborhood. Over the weekend, one resident with mild symptoms tested positive for COVID-19, and during our routine testing of the rest of 200, we found 12 additional asymptomatic COVID+ residents Monday.  Due to the number of new positives, we have created a new isolation unit within the 200 neighborhood in order to attempt confine the virus from the rest of the neighborhood.

Additionally, we have 15 new COVID+ associates. They are from several different departments and areas of the building, and only three seem to be linked.

We are struggling, but I am thankful for the following:

  • While the numbers are growing, almost all of our residents have only mild to moderate symptoms.  We continue to provide early interventions that seem to be helping, such as IV fluids.  Additionally, our associates have done a fantastic job of monitoring and reporting symptoms so our physicians can provide early interventions.
  • The number of recovered residents and associates also is growing. In the past week, 9 residents have recovered, as well as 9 associates.

Finally, Village Assisted Living has learned of a direct care associate who tested positive on Friday, Oct. 10, and today are conducting facility wide rapid testing on all associates who worked during the past 10 days and all residents in VAL and their memory care neighborhoods. They also are encouraging residents to isolate in their apartments, they are delivering meals to residents and have temporarily suspended activities and outdoor visits.

I know this news sounds frightening, and I know you all must be extremely tired of COVID-19, both within the VCC and in your own lives.  Sometimes we have a hard time keeping our spirits up, too.  I know we are exhausted.  Most of us are working seven days a week as we work through staffing challenges brought on by the virus.  But this is exactly why we chose to do this job – to be the helpers and caregivers, and to make a difference in people’s lives.

Our residents are fighters.  We will continue to fight alongside them.  Please keep them, and us, in your thoughts, and stay well.

To summarize the Village’s current status with COVID-19 cases:

 Active CasesRecoveredCumulative Totals DeathsActive CasesRecoveredCumulative Totals 
Village Care Center
(as of 10/13/20)
Village Assisted Living
(as of 10/13/20)
325 2911
All Village areas outside of
(as of 10/13/20)
Please help us keep the Village safe. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Wear a mask.

Oct. 6, 2020

I want to provide you a timely update with what is happening within the VCC.

First let me assure you that we have not experienced any new deaths associated with COVID-19.

100 Long Term Care Neighborhood. Unfortunately, we are seeing further cases of COVID-19 develop within the 100 side of the long term care (LTC) neighborhood. Since I last updated you on Friday, 6 additional residents have tested positive for COVID-19 and have been moved to our Isolation Unit. Three associates also have tested positive.

  • 2 associates are direct care providers
  • 1 associate is a HSA (“pre-CNA”) who has some limited contact with residents

We are continuing the enhanced infection control and containment measures I described last week.

200 Long Term Care Neighborhood. Two residents on the 200 side of the LTC neighborhood tested positive for COVID-19 and have been moved to the Isolation Unit, where we are managing their symptoms. One resident went to the hospital Sunday for an unrelated reason and tested positive at hospital; their symptoms are being treated there.

The rest of the neighborhood was tested today via rapid testing, and those results were all negative. As an additional precaution, so we can better prevent what happened on the 100 side, we have the residents isolating within their rooms to prevent the spread of COVID-19. All associates continue to wear N-95 masks.

Also, we have 2 direct care associates who tested positive in this care neighborhood.

Elsewhere in the VCC. Fortunately, we have not seen any new resident or patient cases on the Village Rehab Unit or the Memory Care Neighborhood. We continue to keep each neighborhood isolated from the rest of the building and are not sharing associates between units, in order to prevent cross-contamination. Our residents who are currently staying in the Isolation Unit are doing relatively well. Most have mild to moderate symptoms and are being treated according to the best practices approved by our Medical Director.

  • 1 non-direct care associate in nutrition services tested positive
  • 1 direct-care associate in memory care tested positive last week but has since had two negative tests

While there has been a lot of very frustrating news I have had to share the past couple of weeks, I also want to share an amazing story I heard this week. A VCC associate got married last weekend, in a park with their parents and two witnesses, after canceling their previously planned wedding. She has been asked repeatedly why she cancelled her wedding and she replied “I would never have been able to live with myself if my wedding caused COVID to enter my work.” I was so moved by her response and her sacrifice she made for her residents. Even writing it now moves me to tears. It reminds me of a quote from Fred Rodgers when he said “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” I hear this associate’s story and I know she is helping.

We will continue to work hard to care for and protect your loved ones. I am so thankful for everyone who has reached out with kind words. It means the world to us. We are tired. We are hurting. But we will continue to fight.

To summarize the Village’s current status with COVID-19 cases:
Village Care Center: Cumulative Totals from 3/14/20 to 10/6/20:

  • CUMULATIVE TOTALS: 32 residents and 45 associates have had confirmed COVID-19 diagnoses
  • RECOVERIES: 11 residents and 29 associates have recovered from COVID-19
  • DEATHS: 1 resident

Village Assisted Living: Cumulative Totals from 3/14/20 to 10/6/20:

  • CUMULATIVE TOTALS: 2 residents and 10 associates have had confirmed COVID-19 diagnoses
  • RECOVERIES: 2 residents and 9 associates have recovered from COVID-19

All Village areas outside of VCC and VALCumulative Totals from 3/14/20 to 10/2/20

  • CUMULATIVE TOTALS: 9 associates have had confirmed COVID-19 diagnoses
  • RECOVERIES: 8 associates have recovered from COVID-19

Please help us keep the Village safe. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Stay safe.

Oct. 2, 2020

This is an e-mail I hoped I would never have to write.  We are experiencing a very real outbreak of COVID-19 within the 100 side of the long-term care (LTC) neighborhood. It is important to me that you know the facts and know what we are doing to address the situation.

Yesterday, we learned of 8 new residents testing COVID+ in that portion of the VCC, in addition to the four I wrote about on Wednesday evening.  At this time, approximately half of them, including the four from Wednesday, are displaying mild symptoms.  The rest remain asymptomatic.  While this is awful news, all other residents’ and associates’ tests have come back negative.

Additionally, I am devastated to say that we have had our first resident death associated with COVID-19.  While the resident was already on hospice, Dr. Twenter, our medical director, believes that COVID-19 accelerated the resident’s condition. We are all heartbroken that this person’s family has had this added to their grief.

All of our work since March has prepared us for this reality. The state health department has visited several times over the past 6 months to review our infection control processes and procedures, and each time they have said we’re doing all of the right things.

Our goal now is to continue to isolate the virus to 100-side of LTC and will continue to be aggressive in our efforts to treat residents’ symptoms.  All residents who have tested COVID+ have been moved to the isolation unit.  The rest of the 100 neighborhood residents are isolating in their rooms, to limit further spread.

In the rest of the building we are:

  • Limiting associates to working on only one neighborhood to avoid any chance of cross-contamination
  • Providing all associates with surgical masks
  • Allowing residents to engage in activities on their neighborhood
  • Continued weekly testing of all associates
  • Monitoring blood pressure, temperature, and oxygen levels twice daily
  • Ongoing staff education
  • Performing routine hand washing audits

To be honest, we are all devastated.  While each of us has mentally prepared for this moment to arrive, we were always hopeful, and have worked tirelessly, in the hope we would avoid it.  I know that you, too, are concerned for the health and wellbeing of all who live and work here. We are resolved to continue to work relentlessly to fight this battle and mitigate the spread.

As we have seen throughout the world, this virus is relentless. We must fight just as relentlessly to prevent its spread throughout this metro area.  It is imperative that each of us remains vigilant in our defenses as we work to fight this battle.

As I have said on numerous occasions, nursing homes are, and will remain, the canary in the coal mine for what is happening in the broader community.  We are now seeing an outbreak in an abundance of nursing homes within Eastern Jackson County.

Those of us who work in the VCC live “out there.” Each time the county’s infection rate rises, so does the likelihood that, no matter how careful we are, we might inadvertently bring it back to work with us. Please help us advocate for safe practices every day:

To summarize the Village’s current status with COVID-19 cases:

Village Care Center: Cumulative Totals from 3/14/20 to 10/2/20:

  • CUMULATIVE TOTALS: 23 residents and 41 associates have had confirmed COVID-19 diagnoses
  • RECOVERIES: 10 residents and 27 associates have recovered from COVID-19
  • DEATHS: 1 resident

Village Assisted Living: Cumulative Totals from 3/14/20 to 10/2/20:

  • CUMULATIVE TOTALS: 2 residents and 9 associates have had confirmed COVID-19 diagnoses
  • RECOVERIES: 2 residents and 9 associates have recovered from COVID-19

All Village areas outside of VCC and VAL

Cumulative Totals from 3/14/20 to 10/2/20

  • CUMULATIVE TOTALS: 9 associates have had confirmed COVID-19 diagnoses
  • RECOVERIES: 8 associates have recovered from COVID-19

We have had some cases that, upon re-testing, we suspect they may have been false positives. We are erring on the side of caution and counting them as testing positive and as recovered. 3/14/20 is when the John Knox Village campus began steps to close to visitors.