Coronavirus Update for Families

THE ST. ANDREW’S HUD APARTMENTS. INDEPENDENT LIVING, ASSISTED LIVING, AND NURSING HOMES HAVE ACHIEVED HIGH LEVELS OF VACCINATIONS AND STAFF REMAINS DILIGENT IN OUR EFFORTS TO MAINTAIN THE SAFETY PROTOCOLS WE HAVE HAD IN PLACE SINCE MARCH 2020 TO KEEP OUR RESIDENTS AND STAFF AS HEALTHY AS POSSIBLE.

U.S. nursing homes are one of the “safest places to be” for seniors, with new data revealing COVID-19 cases at skilled nursing facilities have declined 98% since December and have accounted for just 0.3% of all U.S. cases since mid-May.

That’s according to the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care, which, in a blog posted Tuesday, detailed the progress made at nursing homes since vaccinations at facilities began in late December.

New nursing home fatalities accounted for about 74% of all COVID-related deaths among U.S. seniors during December, according to federal data. That figure has since dropped to 28% as of April, according to the organization.

“The drop in nursing home cases has outstripped the drop in case counts amongst surrounding populations, which in some areas were on the rise, even as vaccines become more readily available,” wrote Beth Burnham Mace, NIC’s chief economist and director of outreach, and data analyst Omar Zahraoui.

“Currently, more fatalities are occurring in the general population of older adults over 85 years of age than in those living in nursing homes,” they added.

Data also revealed that overall cases among residents dropped to their lowest point in the pandemic when just six residents in 10,000 tested positive for COVID-19 during the week ending May 16. That’s compared to more than 300 residents per 10,000 testing positive during the week of Dec. 20.

Mace and Zahraoui said the findings “reflect the magnitude of the impact of the U.S. vaccination program on nursing home residents.”

“The data clearly tracks with the nationwide effort to prioritize nursing home residents for vaccinations. Case counts began to steeply decline as the Pfizer, and then the Moderna vaccines began to be distributed to nursing homes across the country on December 20, 2020. Nursing home case counts remain low, particularly when compared to infection rates among the general population, which have roared back in recent weeks,” the two wrote.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT AND COOPERATION DURING THESE CHALLENGING TIMES.

We were grateful to offer the vaccine to our residents and staff. While this information offers us all a sense of relief, we know that even if someone is fully vaccinated, there is still a risk of transmission.

All our communities will continue to practice all safety measures, and we urge you to do the same.

I am pleased to announce that our communities are safely re-opened, and allow indoor residents’ visitors during posted visiting hours.

Visitors will be required to wear a mask at all times. All guests are expected to adhere to our safety protocols and take the necessary precautions to protect our residents and employees. Please remember that even if a resident is fully vaccinated, there is still a risk of transmission of COVID-19 and your loved one can transmit the virus and potentially becoming ill. All residents and visitors should use an abundance of caution when visiting by continuing to wear a mask and socially distancing.

We will continue to offer iPads to residents for virtual visits with families that want to continue with this option.

Please keep in mind that even after a St. Andrew’s community meets the criteria to open for internal visits, they will be required to revert back to outdoor visits if there is a new COVID-positive case or if their county positivity rate reaches 10% again.

Health officials agree the best defense techniques are:

  • Frequent hand washing using proper hand hygiene by scrubbing with warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Hand sanitizer is useful but does not replace washing with soap and hot water.
  • Avoid touching your face and keep your hands away from your nose, mouth and eyes.
  • Practice social distancing in all situations.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT AND COOPERATION DURING THESE CHALLENGING TIMES.

Residents and Staff were offered the two shot Moderna vaccine starting December 29, 2020 and the third vaccine clinics are scheduled through March 2021.

We were grateful to offer the vaccine to our residents and staff. Two weeks after a resident receive their second shot they will be considered at a higher level of protection against the virus. While this information offers us all a sense of relief, we know that even if someone is fully vaccinated, there is still a risk of transmission.

All St. Andrew’s communities will continue to practice all safety measures, and we urge you to do the same.

I am pleased to announce that in March, we will safely re-open, and allow indoor residents’ visitors.

We are pleased to welcome residents’ guests in a safe and scheduled manner. Visitors will be required to wear a mask at all times. Visitors will make an appointment in advance to receive specific instructions to safely enter and exit the building. All guests are expected to adhere to our safety protocols and take the necessary precautions to protect our residents and employees. Please remember that even if a resident is fully vaccinated, there is still a risk of transmission of COVID-19 and your loved one can transmit the virus and potentially becoming ill. All residents and visitors should use an abundance of caution when visiting by continuing to wear a mask and socially distancing.

TRAVEL POLICY & COVID-19 TESTING REQUIREMENTS

This policy requires residents who are away from the building for one night or longer to submit to a COVID-19 test and provide negative results upon return and then get a second test 6 days later. If a family member wishes to visit their loved one inside the building and has traveled within the last 14 days, we will require a negative COVID-19 test.

We will continue to offer iPads to residents for virtual visits with families.

St. Andrew’s is excited to offer residents more normalcy throughout the building and more opportunities to see family members in their homes. Please remember that we all still need to wear masks, practice social distancing and wash our hands frequently to keep everyone as safe as possible.

Please keep in mind that even after a St. Andrew’s community meets the criteria to open for internal visits, they will be required to revert back to outdoor visits if there is a new COVID-positive case or if their county positivity rate reaches 10% again.

Health officials agree the best defense techniques are:

  • Frequent hand washing using proper hand hygiene by scrubbing with warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Hand sanitizer is useful but does not replace washing with soap and hot water.
  • Avoid touching your face and keep your hands away from your nose, mouth and eyes.
  • Practice social distancing in all situations.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

GOOD NEWS TO SHARE!

On Tuesday, December 29, 2020, we will start vaccinating the residents and staff at St. Andrew’s Resources for Seniors System’s skilled nursing facilities. We have coordinated the administration of the Moderna Vaccine with CVS and Walgreens. Further vaccination details will be provided to other members of the community when available. As a reminder, there are two injections associated with this vaccination which must be administered 28 days after the first injection and you must receive the same vaccine as the first dose. We anticipate the Department of Health and Senior Services will review and revise their visitation guidance based on the vaccine distribution and will communicate changes as they occur.

The health and safety of our communities remains our top priority. Please continue to follow all CDC guidelines, which includes wearing a mask, social distancing, and hand hygiene. We look forward to keeping everyone updated throughout this process.

ENDURING THE CHALLENGES WITH ST. ANDREW’S RESOURCES FOR SENIORS SYSTEM

At St. Andrew’s Resources for Seniors System, we are not just enduring the COVID-19 crisis but we are advancing under tremendous pressures.

To help boost morale, we’ve decided to provide our staff with shirts to show our support.

PPE: While Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was difficult to obtain in the first weeks, we were able to finally secure PPE through our multiple vendor relationships and share it between our communities. This PPE has cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars and we have been blessed that a portion has been covered by the generosity of our donors.

  • Staffing: As a not-for-profit organization, our employees are our most valuable asset, and we are very competitive with a complete compensation package. This has helped us to retain talent long-term, and continue to provide the care our residents have come to expect. We have not experienced the similar staff shortages as some companies.
  • Ahead of the curve: We were one of the first senior-focused organizations to start communication with families and staff regarding the COVID-19 crisis, and we have kept everyone informed as our procedures have changed.
  • Outcomes: We take the health and safety of our residents extremely seriously. We have limited many of the risk factors, which kept the number of staff and residents that did test positive with COVID-19 at very low levels, compared not just to other senior communities, but the public at large.
  • The Fun side: With families still being unable to visit, the staff’s relationship with the residents has strengthened, and everyone is getting in as much fun as possible. We added 20 new i-Pads for residents to use to communicate with families and friends, and we also started a program so people could send a card to residents and help brighten their day. Our hardworking staff were not forgotten with our t-shirt events, goodie bags and many special lunches.

THERE IS A PLAN IN PLACE SO YOU CAN “WORRY LESS” AT ST. ANDREW’S RESOURCES FOR SENIORS SYSTEM

COVID-19 PREVENTION UPDATE

We are exceptionally focused on the health and well-being of all of our residents at every level of care, as well as for our employees who serve them. To meet the challenge of protecting our residents, rest-assured that we are working to meet or exceed the guidance provided to us by the federal and state governments.

We are actively preparing for possible cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

We are quarantining any resident who is exhibiting symptoms of the virus. Any staff member entering a quarantined resident’s room dons hospital-grade personal protective equipment, which will immediately be removed after the visit in order to minimize the risk of cross-contamination.

We have implemented social distancing precautions and thoroughly disinfecting the eating areas in between residents utilizing them. We are encouraging “ordering for carrying out” and eating in their apartments and limiting group size.

All visitors are restricted at this time, all done in the name of protecting this vulnerable population. Here are options to help those residents feel and stay connected.

  • On all community websites & St. Andrew’s website – www.StAndrews1.com – relatives and friends of residents can click a link which will send a free personalized “thinking of you” card to the resident, which will be hand-delivered and read out loud by a staff member at the community.
  • For residents without a phone, staff will be able to provide a clean cell phone for them to speak with family members.
  • There are also tablets available for residents who wish to Skype or Facetime with those outside the community. The staff is able to set up pre-arranged appointments for families to call in to their loved ones.
  • Window visits are being allowed, and the staff will gladly make the arrangements so that visitors and residents can see each other and speak from a safe distance.

St. Andrew’s is continually exploring new avenues to help their residents stay connected during the current visitor restrictions. Please let us know if you have a suggestion we can attempt to utilize.

SLCR GUIDANCE ON RESIDENTS LEAVING THE FACILITY

This is guidance from SLCR; it is not a mandate but rather provides facilities with an avenue to protect the health and safety of residents.

It is appropriate for facilities to ask residents not to leave the facility, unless for a necessary medical reason that cannot be addressed in the facility. For those insistent on taking residents out of the facility, SLCR recommends the following:

  • Only legally authorized persons may remove a resident from the facility. This may be a durable power of attorney for healthcare (if the DPOA has been enacted), a legal guardian or the resident themselves.
  • Before a resident leaves, the facility should follow the discharge regulations to the extent possible so that the resident receives appropriate care while away from the facility.
  • Upon leaving the facility, the resident, their legal representative and all those required by regulation should be given a written emergency discharge notice. It is imperative that the notice contain the required elements stated in regulation, including the reason for discharge (as permitted in regulation) and the location to which the resident is being discharged.
  • Those taking the resident out of the facility are to be informed that the resident will not be permitted to return until the restrictions currently in place are lifted. When appropriate, residents may be required to obtain clearance from their medical provider which may include proof of a negative COVID-19 screening.

The health and wellness of our residents and the caregiving teams who support them is our number one priority. We are staying abreast of the latest information from the Missouri Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and we are working with state and local public health and emergency preparedness officials to strengthen our preparation for a possible outbreak of Coronavirus. Based upon revised recommendations of the CDC, we will limit visitors into the campus to combat the spread of the disease and protect the health and welfare of our residents except for certain situations, such as end-of-life situations and/or significant change. We encourage loved ones to communicate with our residents in ways, other than in-person visits, such as video chat, telephone, or social media. These precautions are vital to helping us avoid and minimize the possible spread of this virus.

We are also educating staff, residents, and families on symptom awareness for COVID-19, infection control best practices, and have clear protocols for staff to stay home and not come to work if they are or live with someone who is ill or symptomatic.

Detailed and specific plans are already in place for a wide range of emergencies and are being updated and evaluated as new information becomes available, and we are working closely with other health care providers in our community to help ensure the health and safety of all.

As we navigate this challenge, we remain focused on providing exceptional care and services for our residents.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Help protect the caregivers that faithfully care for your neighbors across all St. Andrew’s communities. Extra precautions to protect our caregivers require the use of personal protective equipment – PPE. Items like medical masks, gloves, and gowns. We are fortunate to have these supplies available now, but we fully anticipate that we’ll run out of them in a matter of weeks.

To address this crisis, we have initiated the St. Andrew’s EQUIP FOR CARE Fund

The need for PPE has put a strain on our resources, so to help we have created a restricted fund, Equip for Care, that will support the purchase of PPE supplies.

We hope to raise $10,000 for the Fund to reduce the financial gap for needed supplies. Please consider a donation. Your donation will provide:

$25.00 buys one box of 100 gloves

$50.00 covers the cost of a dozen gowns

$100.00 funds 100 face masks ($1/mask)

Any amount is helpful. Donations of PPE supplies are also welcome.

Click here to make an online donation or call our office to coordinate a supply pick up: 314-726-0111

SUPPORTING CORONAVIRUS PREVENTION IN LTC FACILITIES

Some LTC homes will make the difficult decision to limit and/or restrict entry of family and friends into their care settings. To help family and friends understand restrictions being put into place by many LTC providers, Consumer Voice, a national Ombudsman program resource, has put together a webpage: https://theconsumervoice.org/issues/other-issues-and-resources/covid-19.

OTHER HELPFUL INFORMATION:

JEFFERSON CITY, MO –The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) activated a statewide public hotline for citizens or providers needing guidance regarding the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. At 8 a.m. today, the hotline opened and can be reached at 877-435-8411. The hotline is being operated by medical professionals and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

“Communication is vital to our response to this rapidly-evolving situation,” said Dr. Randall Williams, director of DHSS. “For several weeks, our COVID-19 webpage has been and continues to be a great resource for the public, but having the hotline as an additional resource will likely be invaluable as citizens seek guidance for their concerns.”

“It is important to know what to do if you have concerns about an illness during this outbreak,” said Williams. “For those who may be at risk for COVID-19, we encourage them to utilize this hotline or call their health care provider or local public health agency to inform them of their travel history and symptoms. They’ll be instructed on how to receive care without exposing others to the possible illness.”

Simple preventive actions that help prevent the spread of all types of respiratory viruses include:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.