Shielding Those Most At-Risk

How Local Senior Living Facilities Are Handling the COVID-19 Outbreak

Mason Bryant, Staff Reporter

This month has been unprecedented in Modern-American medical history with the recent outbreak and spread of COVID-19 into United States’ borders. We have seen this strain of the virus spread to forty-nine of the fifty states within the Union, and the number of confirmed cases grows rapidly each day. The virus has been deadly in some cases, especially in to senior citizens or those with certain preexisting medical conditions or other factors like smoking or obesity; all of these can cause citizens to be considered more at-risk. This being the case, the health and safety of the elderly has become a matter of great concern.

The Chronicle reached out to several local senior living facilities to learn what steps they are taking to ensure their residents’ safety. As with the rest of the population, these facilities are taking it day-by-day; new government mandates, department of health guidelines, and updates from the Center of Disease Control are implemented every day, and they are doing what they can to stay ahead of the virus. A representative from Hill View Retirement Community stated that since the H1N1 influenza virus emerged in 2009-2010, all medical facilities are required to have a “pandemic plan”, which is a set of emergency protocols, based on CDC guidelines, that were to be enacted immediately when faced with a pandemic such as this. The representative also stated that Hill View is abiding by all of the set regulations and taking the necessary precautions while dealing with this event.

A representative from Rosemount Pavilion Nursing Home claims that they have been in daily contact with the Department of Health, and the Center for Infectious Disease in accordance with their pandemic plan. It has been through calls like this that they have changed their day-to-day operations to reflect the advised changes. The first wave of changes took place in the last few weeks. The initial changes were subtle; restricting the number of visitors the residents can have, as well as cutting back the visitation hours. As of now, the aforementioned facilities have essentially been put on lock-down; no longer allowing any in-person visits. At Hill View, they have even began limiting the inter-building movement of the residents, to try to stay-away the possible spread of disease.

In lieu of the typical face-to-face visits that the residents have become accustomed to, they have been in contact with their loved ones through video media applications such as Facetime and Skype, in accordance with the DOH guidelines. In addition to virtual visitations, they are also allowing window visits, where family can come on-campus and have limited contact with the residents from the other side of a window, so there is no chance of spreading germs into or out of the facility. Also in commitment to not bringing the virus into the facility, the Rosemount Pavilion has starting performing daily medical examinations of staff before they begin their shift. The examinations consist of taking the employee’s temperature and monitoring them for symptoms consistent with the coronavirus. As long as they do not display symptoms, and have a temperature of under 100.4 degrees, they are cleared to enter the building and be in contact with residents. Another precaution that is being taken is routine deliveries are no longer allowed entrance, rather they have been instructed to leave packages outside the facility, and an employee will retrieve them.

When asked what the general reaction and level of morale is among the residents, the respective representatives reported that some residents were upset about the visitation restrictions, but the overwhelming majority were responding positively to the changes. They reportedly understand the position they are in and they are comfortable with the new precautions that have been implemented. Rosemount Pavilion took the stance of total transparency with its residents, keeping them up to date with all of the changes as they occur. A non-government-sanctioned change that is taking place is the Pavilion has begun arranging more indoor activities to occupy residents during this period of prolonged indoor-exclusive inhabitance. They will be hosting their own version of the March Madness basketball tournament, where residents will form teams and compete for the championship title.

In the coming weeks, the virus will undoubtedly spread and become more prevalent in the everyday lives of not only the residents of senior living facilities, but all citizens will be even more at-risk of contracting the disease. At this time, it is imperative that everyone adhere to the guidelines set by the CDC on how to defend against and help prevent the spread or exposure to the Coronavirus. Practice social distancing, keep at least six feet apart from others when at all possible, and refrain from making unnecessary trips out into the general public; avoid large gatherings (i.e. don’t take trips to the grocery store unless it is absolutely imperative), otherwise you will be putting yourself and others at a much higher risk. It is also recommended to disinfect and sanitize frequently. If you are exhibiting symptoms similar to those consistent with the coronavirus, stay at home and self-quarantine to prevent the virus from spreading further. It is also very important to note that you once you are infected, you are contagious nearly immediately, long before you ever experience the first symptom. The main mode of transportation is through simply breathing it in, a reason why it is so contagious and difficult to slow the spread. Please exercise extreme caution in response to this pandemic and be aware that your every decision has an impact on your health and the health of those close to you.