Over the past few weeks, you’ve undoubtedly heard some news stories and statistics related to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact on long term care communities across New York State, particularly in the New York City and Buffalo areas. Unfortunately, some of the information being disseminated to the general public regarding nursing homes specifically is misleading, misrepresentative of our industry as a whole, and based on a misunderstanding of a nursing home’s place in our healthcare system. The threat that COVID-19 poses to the population we serve is very real, but I want to remind you that there ARE some differences between what you are hearing in the news regionally compared to what is happening locally.
First and foremost, we have not had any confirmed COVID-19 cases on our campus. Several of our campus residents have been tested when they presented common COVID-19 symptoms, but all tests have been negative. An advertisement that recently ran in our local newspaper (The Post-Journal) alluded to area nursing homes having positive infections, but it simply is not true. That kind of misleading information is dangerous and harmful to the emotional wellbeing of our residents who read the newspaper and their families who worry about them. As we have stated in the past, we are committed to being open, honest, and as transparent as we can. You will hear from us directly and immediately should we have any residents test positive for COVID-19 in the future.
Second, we stand behind our care givers. Our nurses, aides, therapists, and others across the board have gone above and beyond to make sure they deliver the same level of care now as they did before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Our staff’s ability to think outside the box, get creative, and maintain high infection prevention standards during these trying times has been extraordinary. Their competency, training, education, and work ethic meet the same standards as those professionals working in our state’s top hospital systems. Long term care settings like ours have a crucial place in the healthcare system, but they are usually an afterthought until they are highlighted negatively by situations like this. Our care providers are the backbone of this organization and other organizations across the state. Heroes work here… and we will continue to do everything we can to provide them with the staffing and resources they need to care for your loved ones. We remain in good shape on both fronts compared to many others across the state and country and we aim to keep it that way.
Finally, we continue to follow all of the guidance given to us by the NYS Department of Health as well as the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Both organizations oversee what we do and the care we provide. Although we may feel uncomfortable enforcing some of the directives given to us on an emotional level (ex. asking families and other visitors to wear masks during window calls), we are doing these things for our residents’ safety as well as for you and our staff. We strive to be good stewards in the community and a part of that means being good role models for infection prevention. We give our staff, residents, and family members as much information and education as we can to make sure those venturing out into the community remain healthy. Social distancing, wearing facial covers, staying home while ill, and other measures will help us recover as a society sooner rather than later. The sooner we recover, the sooner we can begin to return to our regularly scheduled lives.
The enclosed communication helps explain some of the basics. Please feel free to share this with family and friends. “We wear masks for you and you wear them for us.” This is social responsibility 101.
Our hearts and prayers go out to our colleagues who are working at COVID-19 impacted facilities across the state as they battle this virus on two fronts: within their walls and in the media. As stated before, we have not had any positive cases on our campus yet which is a testament to the work of our staff, in particular our nursing staff.
That being said, we want to thank them and all of you who may be nurses out in the community in recognition of National Nurses Week, May 6-12. Nurses are our soldiers in this war against COVID-19 and we cannot thank all of them enough for their tireless commitment to their communities and to their patients and residents.
Thank you again for your patience and understanding during this time.
President and CEO