September 17, 2021
I know that much of the communication we send out pertains to positive COVID cases in our facilities and its impact on visitation. However, during our leadership meeting this week, we discussed the importance of communication with our families. Our goal is to send a monthly communication that covers general topics about what is happening in our facility. This month’s topics include the booster vaccine, general visitation outlook, what to expect when you come into the facility, and the proposed mandatory vaccine initiative from the Federal government.
We are waiting on final guidance on the booster vaccine. We have been working with our partner pharmacy, Walgreens, to plan for a mass vaccination day for our residents and team members who received their second dose 6-8 months ago. While we do not have a date yet, the expectation is that in late September or early October we will host a clinic. We will also try to coordinate the flu vaccine at this time (depending on the CDC guidance about issuing both vaccines simultaneously). In the coming weeks you will likely hear from someone at the facility to request consent to administer both the COVID booster vaccine as well as the flu vaccine. As we receive more information, we will pass along to you.
It has been great to have visitors back in our facility! We recognize it hasn’t always gone smoothly, but I want to reassure you that having visitation is one of our highest priorities. Unfortunately, we do have to pause visitation occasionally when we discover a positive COVID case; but as soon as we conduct full facility testing and determine if there are additional cases, we will resume visitation. Even if we determine there are multiple positive cases on one unit, and we must pause visitation for longer, compassionate care visits are always available.
When you do come to visit, we want you to be safe; therefore, this is what you can expect. Upon walking through the door, there is a station to sanitize your hands and put on a surgical mask. You will then be directed to the thermometer (on a tripod), which will scan your temperature so that our receptionist can record it. You will also be asked to complete a screening document which includes questions about the COVID vaccine and any exposure you may have had. You will have the option to test. If you choose this option, you will have to wait 15 minutes for the result prior to beginning your visit. When you’re ready to go back and visit your loved one, we will provide you with additional personal protective equipment, such as a shield and/or a gown, if necessary. We also ask that when you’re walking back to your loved one’s room that you go straight there and return to the front desk when you’re finished. We are trying to limit the number of visitors wandering around the facility.
Last month, President Biden announced a mandatory vaccine policy for all health care workers in nursing facilities. This mandate has not gone into effect yet. When the Federal government wants to issue mandates, they must first write a rule. The rule is currently being written, and once it is complete, they proceed with a process known as soliciting comments. What I can tell you is that there will be exceptions for individuals with health and/or religious issues. There will likely be a future date on which we will need to comply (the rule won’t come out on a Tuesday and mandate compliance on Wednesday or Thursday). When we have additional information, we will share with you.
Lastly, I want to encourage all of you to get the COVID-19 vaccine. We have witnessed, firsthand, the devastation this virus can cause. There is no single solution to eradicating this virus, but we know that in addition to wearing masks and practicing good hand hygiene, getting vaccinated can prevent or reduce the symptoms you experience if you’re exposed to COVID.
Thank you for trusting us with your loved one. We are doing our best to care for them like family.
Chase M. Kohn
Chief Operating Officer