Higher Vaccinations, Lower COVID Cases Lead to Fewer Restrictions for Visiting Loved Ones
At Vetter Senior Living, vaccinating residents and team members against COVID-19 has been a major priority. We knew this would put us on the road to recovery and it has proven to be true!
Because of our high participation rate among residents and team members in our independent and assisted living communities, we are able to allow visitors back into the buildings! Federal regulators have also lessened restrictions for visitation at our long-term care / skilled nursing facilities.
This is a big step forward for all of us, but it comes with a caution. If we have an outbreak of the virus among team members or residents, or if the level of positive cases rises in our county, we will have to take a step back and increase precautions again until things clear up.
If you would like to visit, we ask that you please call the facility, and they will give you the specific requirements we must follow to have a safe visit.
All of us at Vetter Senior Living would like to thank the residents, families, and everyone in the community for your understanding and generous support during the pandemic. We are also mindful of the toll this has taken on so many people; we pray for those enduring isolation during this time, those still battling the virus, and for the many lives lost during this time.
Vaccinations Clinic Success – Regulations Still in Place
We are happy to report all Vetter Senior Living facilities successfully completed at least two COVID-19 vaccination clinics for residents and team members. Thank you to everyone who participated. The vaccine provides hope for and end of the pandemic and a path to reopening our facility to family members and loved ones.
The vaccinations are an important development, but regulators have told us to expect most of the visitor restrictions and testing requirements to remain in place for a while longer. One concern is specialists do not yet know whether vaccinated individuals can still be carriers of the virus and infect others. Other factors include our county positivity rate, and the percentage of population that has been vaccinated.
As we hopefully see fewer cases of COVID-19 in our counties, thanks to the vaccine, we believe our county positivity rates will come down which will help the government lessen restrictions on visitations. We continue to watch for changes in guidance and regulation and we will let you know when those occur.
Our passion continues to be maximizing our resident’s dignity and social well-being while minimizing their risks for exposure to the virus. We continue to follow CDC guidelines, including screening everyone and taking their temperature before they can enter the building.
Thank you everyone for your continued support and understanding.
The first vaccine clinics for facilities began on December 28th and will continue for the next few months. Each facility has a vaccination plan for residents and team members and will provide specific details at the local level. The facility will ask for consent from the resident, or the person who has the power to make healthcare decisions for them. You can review the EUA fact sheet here.
We encourage as many residents and team members as possible to get this vaccine. The elderly have a much higher risk for getting very sick, being hospitalized, or dying from COVID-19. The vaccine has been shown to provide a great deal of protection against serious illness due to COVID-19. The more residents and staff that get vaccinated, the better we can protect our community against potential outbreaks and save lives.
This vaccine has gone through testing and clinical trials to ensure it meets the highest safety standards. It also is safe to get if you already had the virus. The health and safety of our residents is always our top priority, and we are confident this vaccine is a much better option than the risk of getting this virus.
And you can rest assured that we will continue to take all necessary precautions after the vaccine is administered, including wearing personal protective equipment and conducting regular testing, to ensure the safety of our residents and staff. We will also work with public health officials to determine how and when to adjust our policies for visitations and social activities and keep you updated.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel. We are hopeful that the vaccine will be a lifesaving turning point in the fight against COVID-19. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions. You may also visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines to learn more about the vaccine.
Expanded Testing for Skilled Nursing Facilities
New regulations require skilled nursing facilities (nursing homes) to regularly test team members and, in the event of an outbreak, test residents. Team members may be tested as often as once a week.
How often the testing occurs depends on a few factors. Residents or team members who show symptoms consistent with COVID-19 must be tested. If there is a positive result, which is considered an “outbreak”, we are required to conduct facility-wide testing of all residents and team members. Tests will occur every three to seven days until no new cases are found for at least 14 days from the last positive case.
Most of the time we will use a “rapid results” test. This enables us to quickly identify and react to a potential outbreak. If we have a positive result from the rapid test, we will increase precautions in our building, which may include immediately canceling visits and communal dining.
It’s important to note that we may also have the individual who receives a positive “rapid” test result do a follow-up “molecular” test which involves a lab and is more elaborate and considered the most accurate. If that test comes back negative, and the team member is free of symptoms, we consult with Infection Control Specialists. If they approve, we are able to lift the restrictions.
Late June, health departments in the states we serve announced guidelines to begin loosening up restrictions on visitors, small group dining and activities in senior care facilities.
We are excited at the prospect of once again allowing in-person visits with our families and their loved ones, as well as, allowing our contracted providers such beauticians and barbers back into the buildings. It’s important to note that each facility will be unique in their progression toward reopening based on variables that affect them.
There are several things that influence how each facility can become less restrictive, everything from completing resident and team member baseline testing, to local Public Health District directives, and the amount of available personal protective equipment. We are working to quickly implement plans that meet the many requirements.
The safety of our residents, visitors and team members will continue be our primary focus, and we all need to be aware that a COVID-19 positive diagnosis among residents or team members can potentially require us to again restrict visitors and group activities.
Please know that individual facilities will notify their residents and families with details of their specific plan to begin the “reopening” process.
We are following the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on prevention steps, including following strict hand washing procedures, and in many circumstances, wearing gowns and gloves when interacting with residents who present symptoms. We also are staying up to date with the CDC recommendations as they may continue to change. In addition, our facilities and a team at the Vetter Senior Living home office have been communicating with local and state health departments and are following their guidance.