Staffing Implications of COVID-19
Let me start by saying that I am incredibly thankful for all of you, and I pray daily for God’s supernatural hand of protection over you and those whom He has entrusted to our care. I know these are scary times, and you are being called upon to serve in an environment of extreme uncertainty.
I understand that there are many of you who are working with conditions that put you on the list of those most at risk for serious complications if you contract COVID-19. While we cannot make any promises, we will do everything we can to assign staff in a way that takes into consideration these situations as you make us aware of them.
The good news is that our facilities have essentially been in quarantine for almost three weeks now. Those of you who work in our New York skilled and assisted living facilities have been wearing surgical masks for over two weeks to help prevent, unknowingly, introducing the virus into our communities.
I want to assure you that we are meeting daily to evaluate the ever changing realities of our life with COVID-19. We currently have supplies of PPE and are working to acquire more in anticipation of a positive case in one of our facilities. In addition, we are taking the following steps to ensure continued operations and support for those who need our services:
- Each nursing home has been working to relocate residents so that we can have a contained area for new admissions of those from hospitals and homes. These individuals are essentially being quarantined and watched closely for symptoms of COVID-19.
- Table top drills have been performed to assure that your teams are ready, and we have taken the most conservative approach to the use of PPE by our staff. PPE will be required to be worn when caring for any resident who has symptoms until we know for certain that they are not COVID-19 positive. We will immediately limit the number of staff who will be working with those residents.
- With the temporary easing of Medicare regulations, the COVID-19 task force will be working closely with our SNF administrators to select locations in our facilities that can be used for isolation of both in-house developed cases of COVID-19 and in the eventuality that we will be expected and required to admit patients who have already been diagnosed with COVID-19 in order to support our hospitals.
- To accommodate for the added stress and PPE requirements, a $2 per hour bonus program has been established for nurses and CNAs who directly provide care to a COVID-19 or COVID-19 suspected resident. We are hopeful that there will be some employees who will let us know that they are willing to care for these residents.
- Laundry services are being offered to relieve the stress of possibly carrying the virus home to your family on you clothes.
Thank you again for your dedication and for all you do! #HeritageStrong
President and CEO
Dear Residents, Families, and Community Members,
We are grateful to report that as of this writing, none of our Heritage or Heritage affiliated communities have any positive cases of COVID-19. We continue to work diligently to ensure the health and safety of our residents and staff.
As mentioned in my last communication, residents of our skilled nursing facilities are being closely monitored for any signs or symptoms. We continue to check temperatures three times per day. The same is true in our assisted living communities with temperatures being taken twice daily. We continue to reach out to those who reside in our independent living communities to check on their health and have expanded our services to include meal delivery and grocery pick up.
The leadership teams of our communities have completed table top drills and each community currently has the necessary personal protective equipment in place for the safety of our staff, should we have a positive case. In the event of a positive case, each skilled nursing facility has a dedicated location for those individuals. Staff are aware of the procedures that will be followed to assure their safety and to avoid any potential spread throughout the facility.
I want to remind you that we are now going on 18 days since our communities essentially went into a quarantine scenario. All visitation was stopped and all congregate dining and large group activities were discontinued. Staff have been wearing surgical masks anytime they are working in direct care areas. All of these steps have been taken to avoid unknowingly introducing COVID-19 into our facilities.
In addition to the steps being taken to assure the health of your loved ones, our teams are working diligently to provide opportunities for life enrichment and connection with those under our care. Please feel free to contact the appropriate facility if you want to arrange a virtual visit. Additionally, in some of our communities, window visits may be possible.
We have been blessed to receive many donations from the community, and we know that many of you are praying for our residents and staff. Words cannot express how important your support is to our care teams! We continue to seek God’s supernatural protection for our residents, staff, and communities.
Heritage President and CEO
Letter to Employees
Let me start this letter by saying “THANK YOU” for all you are doing to assure the safety and well-being of those we serve during these difficult times. Words cannot begin to express how grateful we are for all of you who daily promote Hope, Dignity, and Purposeful Living!
There are now active cases of COVID-19 being reported in all of the counties we serve except for Crawford County, PA, and they are surrounded on all sides. There is little doubt that at some point in the very near future our facilities will begin to be directly impacted by a resident or staff member who tests positive for COVID-19.
We are as ready as we can be. The COVID Task Force has been following the guidelines of the CDC as well as our local, state, and federal regulatory bodies. They continue to work behind the scenes to update policies and procedures, prepare communications, and stay abreast of the ever changing regulatory environment.
Today we finalized the policies and procedures which will be implemented for each level of care should any of our communities have a positive or presumptive positive case of COVID-19. Your facility administrator/director will have these policies available no later than tomorrow. They will be posted for your review and will be communicated through whatever channels they feel are most effective for your community.
At this time, it is even more critical for you to avoid any possible external contacts with someone who may have been exposed. Your health and well-being are of the utmost of importance to us, but they are even more critical to those we serve.
Please know that at some point, there will likely be someone under our care who has COVID-19. Our skilled nursing facilities exist for times such as this. We are required to be willing to accept someone who has already tested positive, and we may be asked to do so by the local hospital should they become over burdened with cases. I have the utmost confidence in our frontline staff to utilize the appropriate protocols to avoid further internal spread in our facilities.
I want to take this opportunity to remind you of the very confidential nature of the work we do. Please be extra careful to avoid HIPPA violations and to maintain the privacy of our residents and your coworkers. Relative to COVID-19, NO staff member should be communicating with the media or a residents’ family without approval from the facility administrator or director.
The coming weeks are going to be tough. We will see exponential increases in COVID-19, but there is one thing I know for certain. In these chaotic times, God is still in control. He has been faithful to Heritage for over 130 years. We pray for His continued guidance, faithfulness, and blessing, as well as a supernatural protection of our residents and staff, as we serve those whom He has entrusted to our care.
President and CEO, Heritage Ministries
Message from David Smeltzer
David Smeltzer, Heritage President and CEO, recently sent a message to all family members of those in our care via our telephone alert system. Please note, these calls came from our corporate offices at The Green in Greenhurst, NY. To listen to the full audio clip, click the link below.
Letter to Staff
These are unprecedented times in our world. The response to COVID-19 has been more extreme than any other previous mass healthcare concern in recent history. There is no one who isn’t being impacted in some way by the actions being taken to diminish the spread of this potentially deadly virus. We know that each person’s response to this pandemic varies greatly, but I believe it is safe to say that most individuals are experiencing some degree of stress or anxiety at a result.
We recognize that the steps being taken by our government to try and limit the spread in the near future are having a direct impact on everyone. Toilet paper seems to be the new currency. Schools are closing and larger gatherings are being eliminated.
You, our partners in care, are certainly not exempt from the impact. We recognize that for those of you with school age children, the recent school closures have added another layer of stress to this already intense situation. While we do not have the capacity or ability to provide direct support, we want you to know that we are extremely sympathetic to your situation. If there is anything we can do to adjust your schedule or work dates, please do not hesitate to contact your supervisor or facility HR director, and we will make every effort to make adjustments as possible.
At The Kenney, it is our mission to care for those who have been determined to be at highest risk of death if infected. We are doing everything we can to stay on top of the ever changing regulations. We apologize that there are times when our communications change or seem to be unclear. We appreciate your patience!
YOU are the key to our success. Now more than ever, we are asking you to work as a team to assure that those we serve are safe, secure, and comfortable. The work you do is truly not just a job; it’s a calling. We appreciate your commitment to those whom God has entrusted to our care!
In what was likely the last church service at Bemus Point United Methodist Church for the foreseeable future, our pastor shared from the following scripture:
28Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31but those who HOPE in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Now more than ever, we put our hope in the Lord!
President and CEO
Voluntary Stop Placement
John Cruz, The Kenney Executive Director, has announced that The Kenney, a Heritage senior living community in West Seattle, has issued a voluntary stop placement on all visitors.
The Kenney currently has NO confirmed cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus, they are taking precautions.
At The Kenney, our residents and those we serve are our highest concern. The health and safety of both our residents and staff is of the utmost importance, and we are taking action to reduce the risk of exposure for all. On 3/9/20 there was were ten active cases of Coronavirus in assisted living communities in and around the Seattle area. Gov. Inslee’s orders as of 3/10/2020 we are proactively issuing a voluntary stop placement through 4/1/20. Our staff have been well trained in preparation to support our residents.
Effectively immediately, The Kenney will restrict all visitors except for those visiting end-of-life residents. End-of-life residents may have one visitor per day, age 18 or older. All visitors will be screened for illness before being allowed to visit using a screening questionnaire. To reduce the spread of influenza and other respiratory illnesses, The Kenney is also restricting all visitors younger than 18 years of age until further notice.
Presently, any individuals, including vendors and employees, are being screened daily before entering a building. Ancillary service vendors should provide and wear personal protective equipment (PPE) due to the crisis. Those who exhibit any symptoms, have recently traveled, or have been near anyone ill with symptoms are not currently being granted entrance.
The Kenney staff have prepared extensively, and Executive Director, John Cruz, shared he has confidence in the team. “The Kenney and Heritage have taken a proactive approach to prevent the spread and transmission of COVID-19 within its communities. Heritage has formed a COVID-19 task force, including experts in the fields of nursing homes, and senior housing.”
New Directives from Governor Inslee
As of 9am this morning, Governor Inslee announced new orders pertaining to nursing homes in the State of Washington to help curtail the spread of COVID-19 throughout the state.
A short outline of the new directives goes as follows:
- All residents will be limited to one visitor per day for the duration of the emergency.
- All visitors will be required to follow all screening procedures as determined by the facility before being allowed to enter.
- All visitors will be required to wear protective gear when visiting.
- All visitors will logged in and logs will be maintained for thirty (30)days.
- All workers are to be screened before reporting to work for each shift for COVID-19 symptoms.
- Residents who might be showing symptoms of COVID-19 as determined by medical professionals, must be isolated in their rooms.
- No names of individuals with COVID-19 are to be disclosed to the general public as per HIPPA laws.
- Real time information pertaining to those individuals with COVID-19 will be transmitted to family members through DSHS.
Statement from The Kenney Regarding COVID-19
At The Kenney, our residents and those we serve are our highest concern. We would like to assure the public that we currently have no suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) at The Kenney. The health and safety of both our residents and staff is of the utmost importance, and we are taking action to reduce the risk of exposure for all.
The steps we are implementing are directly tied to the recommendations of the CDC and Public Health-Seattle & King County, and we will adjust our steps if those recommendations change.
- Effective immediately, we are asking visitors to not enter our community if they are exhibiting any type of symptoms or have recently traveled to any area of concern.
- We are not holding events that bring outside groups of people to the Kenney, and are minimizing large group and outside trip activities to lessen the chance of exposure.
- Our staff has been well trained in preparation to support our residents.
We thank everyone for their patience and cooperation. Working together we can minimize the impact of this disease on our community.