updateToday’s Town Hall phone conference is to provide updates about the COVID-19 status in the building and updates on new guidance.

PCR & Rapid Testing

We continue to have no positive cases of COVID-19 with residents and staff. We continue to test staff monthly and test residents who are symptomatic.

I will be sending a mailing out today that includes the CT Department of Public Health’s press release and also the “Fact Sheet for Patients” for the rapid antigen COVID-19 tests we received from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

We received a BD Veritor Plus Analyzer. We will continue to use our lab, Collaborative Lab Services, and our state-assigned care partner, Griffin Hospital, for PCR testing and will use the rapid antigen tests if:

  • The results of a PCR test will not be returned in less than 48 hours
  • The provider gives an order to use the rapid antigen test for an initial baseline result

New Facility Guidelines

For the new visitation guidelines, CMS has stated: Facilities should accommodate and support indoor visitation, although outdoor visitation is preferred as it poses a lower risk of transmission due to increased space and airflow. The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) is also supporting this recommendation.

Outdoor visitation will probably continue in the warmer climates of the US but here in New England, temperatures are dropping. We will continue with the outdoor visits if the weather is nice.

CMS Recommendations

Per CMS, indoor visitation can happen based on the following guidelines:

  1. There has been no new onset of COVID-19 cases in the last 14 days and the facility is not currently conducting outbreak testing;
  2. Visitors should be able to adhere to the core principles and staff should provide monitoring for those who may have difficulty adhering to core principles, such as children;
  3. Facilities should limit the number of visitors per resident at one time and limit the total number of visitors in the facility at one time (based on the size of the building and physical space). Facilities should consider scheduling visits for a specified length of time to help ensure all residents are able to receive visitors; and
  4. Facilities should limit movement in the facility. For example, visitors should not walk around different halls of the facility. Rather, they should go directly to the resident’s room or designated visitation area. Visits for residents who share a room should not be conducted in the resident’s room.

Indoor Family Visits

Visits still need to be monitored to assure the core principles of COVID-19 Infection Prevention are followed. We will be ready to transition to indoor visits next week. If the weather is nice, then we will continue outdoor visits. We will be using the main dining room for visits. It will be a work in progress and we’ll adjust as we go along.

I have ordered some privacy screens that should be in by the end of next week, but with the weather getting cooler, I did not want to hold off on indoor visits. We are also looking into reserving some parking spots close to the building for visitors only.

I’m continuing to work with our IT people to give families the ability to sign up for visits and fill out the screening tool online.

Indoor visitation will be allowed as long as the county positivity rate is below 10%. If the county positivity rate is above 10% or if other factors come into play, such as a community upsurge in positive cases, then visitation will only occur for compassionate care situations.

At this time, we will not be requiring visitors be tested for COVID-19 but we will be following and will expect all visitors to follow the Core Principles of COVID-19 Infection Prevention.

Our goal is to have indoor visits be successful and have developed a procedure with the safety of our residents, visitors and staff in mind. We are very happy to be moving forward and to be able to facilitate indoor visits.

The visitation rules also allow other caregivers, volunteers, hairdressers, contractors and non-essential healthcare workers to come inside. We will be requiring COVID testing for non-essential healthcare workers.

Additional Updates

Our parking lot project should be complete by Friday of this week, however there won’t be any lines drawn in the front parking lot. We are in the process of having that scheduled.

Our recreation department is continuing to schedule activities for the residents, Skype, FaceTime, lobby window visits and outdoor visits. We will be scheduling outdoor visits for this week on the following days:

  • Tuesday from 1pm-5pm
  • Wednesday from 10-1:00pm
  • Friday from 10-3pm
  • Saturday 10-2:30pm

The Town Hall updates are now being posted to our Facebook page and the website by Thursday every week. We will continue to keep you abreast of what is happening at the facility and if you have any questions or concerns, please call us.
Our next call will be on Tuesday October 13th at 11:00am. Please email me with any questions and I will answer them on our next call.

– Tina Richardson, LNHA, Administrator