The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that beginning May 8th, 2020, Nursing Facilities must begin reporting their COVID 19 data regarding illnesses, staffing, and PPE through the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) that links to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Lisa Stein, RN our Infection Preventionist is partnering with our Incident Command and Employee Health teams to provide this information. As a facility, we also have an obligation to notify residents, staff, and families by 5pm the next business day if there are new COVID 19 positive residents or staff members, or if there are 3 or more residents and staff that have a new onset of a respiratory illness in less than 72 hours. If there are no new positive cases, then we are required to continue to provide weekly notifications. As of now, we have no positive residents or staff to report, and we do not have 3 or more staff or residents with new onset of respiratory illness in the last 72 hours.
We have made several changes to our plan in the last week. We have been actively screening for fever, cough, shortness of breath, and sore throat since March 14th. Any of those symptoms meant the employee could not report for duty. Starting 5/9/2020, we expanded the symptom screening for staff and residents so that if 2 or more of these additional symptoms are present, they must be off until cleared by employee health or their physician to return to work: sore throat, vomiting/diarrhea, chills, headache muscle shaking, new onset of muscle pain, new onset of loss of taste/smell. Many times, it is a normal non-COVID 19 illness like anyone might experience at any time, but to be safe, they are excluded from work according to their doctor’s orders and guidance our Employee Health Department receives from the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the CDC. We have been able to fill open shifts with our current staff to prevent staffing shortages.
If any residents exhibit symptoms, they will be placed in isolation and we will collaborate with their physician and public health for next steps. Any residents that must leave the building for appointments or dialysis will be shower, change their clothes, have their wheelchair/walker sanitized, and be in isolation for 14 days after the day they left. This is to protect other residents in the building. We are working with physician’s offices to complete visits via telehealth, phone, and fax whenever possible to avoid additional exposure to our residents.
As the governor begins to open communities and businesses, it is important to continue social distancing for our residents. They are a very vulnerable population, and our restrictions have not changed. We have added guidance for end of life compassionate or emergent visits, but remain closed for routine visits. You can continue to contact our activity department to set up times to call, video, or window chat with residents. If you have care packages for your loved one, you can put in our entry way and call the facility 319-472-6280 and we can retrieve and deliver the package.
Since it is National Nursing Home Week-please join me in thanking the wonderful 5 Star Staff that are working so hard to keep everyone safe-now and always!
Jessica Henkle, BS, RN-BC, NHA
Director of Long Term Care Services
Virginia Gay Nursing and Rehab
Phone (319) 472-6347
PPE Update: Our Materials department continues to monitor our supply of masks, gowns, gloves, and face shields. We work diligently to have enough supply on hand to keep residents and staff safe now, as well as over the next several months. You can rest assured that despite the headlines about PPE shortages, we are still receiving PPE, and are well prepared for all that may come our way. Additionally, in response to the global shortages, we have received confirmation from FEMA that we will receive a shipment of 2 weeks’ supply of PPE within the next 2 months!
This week started with a big day! Sunday, we honored all our Mother’s with a chocolate rose. Many Families sent flowers and gifts to their mothers, many cards and phone calls were received. That kicked off Nursing Home Week. The theme is “Sharing our Wisdom.” We have had fun activities and gifts all week. We have shared much wisdom between staff and residents. Some have even had their pictures and an interview in the Vinton Eagle.
One gentleman received a wonderful wisdom filled letter from the Cub’s organization, reminding us that everyone has adversities to endure. (He wanted it placed on his shelf with other important items to remember). If you really look at things and think about it, other people’s adversities are often worse than our own. My dad said, if we all brought our problems to church in a brown paper bag, we would bring our own bag home-we would not want anyone else’s problems. We need to stay strong, also, be support for others in facing adversities.
We shared that most of the women’s favorite memory is their wedding day and when they had grandbabies. We shared that everyone has had very kind people in their lives and feel they had many kindnesses done for them throughout their lives. Majority felt their mothers were the wisest person they know and the person they felt the most loyalty to and from.
We shared everyone has different ideas of what would make them happy, some extravagant, some very simple. Jen and I learned how much fun and laughs we can all have with some of the simplest things. We also learned that everyone will eat ice cream, no matter what color it is. We had blue, vanilla soft serve ice cream on Thursday. Yes, it was delicious!
Everyday staff filled out tickets for a drawing if they wore their Nursing Home Week pin and a resident’s name that had theirs on. We will have a drawing on Monday.
Please remember to send cards and letters to your loved ones, they all love that so much. We were blessed this week with beautiful cards for everyone from the Art Guild.
We can do Facetime or Skype if any of you have the capabilities for that. Also, just feel free to call your loved one more frequently, we do have a cordless phone we can take to their room if they do not have a phone of their own.
We are all staying strong and healthy, hope you are all doing the same. Keep smiling and laughing, that is the best medicine.
*For more information on Virginia Gay Hospital’s response to COVID-19, please visit our COVID-19 Need to Know web page.