Visitation Closures Explained
Since writing to you last week regarding a variety of hot button issues, we’ve received multiple calls or emails asking for clarification on visitation and who specifically makes the call of whether or not a facility can reopen. The assumption is that we (Lutheran) are deciding to stay closed which is not at all accurate. We want our families and residents to be together again safely. While regulations differ between the Lutheran Home and Rehabilitation Center compared to the Hultquist Place Assisted Living Program in regards to visitation during the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the following is a very broad overview of how these decisions are made, who makes them, and how you can help.
We are required to follow guidelines given to us by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as well as the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH). While the federal guidelines remain somewhat relaxed due to differing levels of community based spread of COVID-19 in each state, our campus must follow our own state’s guidelines which tend to be stricter.
The strict nature of those guidelines is due to where we’ve been over the last eight months and what we have witnessed as an industry though maybe not specifically in our county. Who, what, when, and how certain places can open or close is generally all you hear or read about in the news, but the reasoning is often left out due to how complicated the information is to relay and explain. There is extensive data guiding those decisions behind the scenes which is based on science and simple math. When the numbers and data change on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis, it leads many people to believe that they are made up or deceitful. In reality, the numbers and data change frequently because we are still learning more and more about COVID-19 every day. The more we learn, the better we can adapt and plan ahead. The better we adapt and plan ahead, the sooner we can reopen to visitors.
The NYS DOH uses the most up-to-date data available to decide if and when we will reopen and it varies by facility. We then must enforce those decisions.
As the curve in our state went down, the requirements to reopen were reduced. We want that trend to continue. Please know that we are ready for visitation to begin in LHRC and to continue in HP. Our staff have moved mountains to keep our residents and themselves safe as best they can, but we can only control what happens within our own walls. You have undoubtedly read about outbreaks at other nearby facilities. Infections can be minimized or avoided by adhering to infection prevention basics like social distancing, handwashing, mask wearing, and more. We wholly believe that the infections we’ve had in our building did not spread or turn into clusters because of our dedication to cleanliness and sanitization as well as routine testing of our employees. Our success is a true testament to the hard, thoughtful work being done here despite the continued hidden, asymptomatic spread of this virus.
When infection control is done right and on time, you can manage the COVID-19 threat. When it comes to general advocacy and sharing of information, here are some other things you can do to help us and others:
First, participate in contact tracing when needed, take infection prevention seriously, use the NYS COVID-19 smartphone app to monitor your own health, and help keep healthcare workers safe in our community. Second, call your local and state elected officials to ask for and encourage them to make more financial resources and testing resources available to us and others. This will help us find positive infections sooner, get rid of them sooner, and start visitation sooner. Lastly, only share information with others that is from trusted sources on matters related to COVID-19 and visitation, particularly as it relates to our campus. Although your friends and favorite websites may seem knowledgeable, op-ed information and word of mouth can quickly become the telephone game, with information changing or skewing until it is no longer credible.
You should visit coronavirus.health.ny.gov or cdc.gov for the most reliable public health information on COVID-19. You can also find up-to-date information and helpful links at lutheran-jamestown.org or by calling our 24/7 hotline number below.
We will be able to bring you and your loved ones together again soon. Although inclement weather is on the horizon, we have protocols for socially distanced, indoor visitation built into our visitation plans. We can and will do anything we can to bring you all together within the guidelines given to us by our regulators. We need our community’s help to get there. Please stay warm, safe, and remain patient and we continue forward!
Symptomatic LHRC Residents Tested for COVID-19 – 31
LHRC Residents Tested for COVID-19 – ALL*
LHRC Residents Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 0
Former COVID-19 Positive LHRC Residents Recovered – 2
Symptomatic HP Residents Tested for COVID-19 – 0
HP Residents Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 0
Employees Tested Weekly for COVID-19 (State Mandated) – ALL
LHRC Employees Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 1
HP Employees Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 0
Former COVID-19 Positive Employees Recovered – 7
*not counting resident or representative declinations.
President and CEO