Dear Residents, Family Members, and Employees,
I hope you all are doing well. I would like to take this opportunity to provide an update of what is happening at all WEL communities and levels of care as it relates to COVID-19.
Over the past 6-8 weeks, I’m happy to report that positive cases have essentially disappeared throughout all of our communities, and we continue to have no cases in staff or residents at Burholme or Upper Moreland.
It is clear that the virtual elimination of the virus in WEL communities tracks with and is a direct result of our ability to obtain the personal protective equipment that we so desperately needed in early April but could not get. Once the supply of this precious equipment was shared to providers other than hospitals, new cases per week in WEL facilities fell from a peak of 35 to single digits in less than a month and effectively stopped altogether within a few weeks after that.
We have completed the comprehensive testing as required by the Pennsylvania Department of Health for all skilled nursing care employees and residents. We identified only one new employee case at Stapeley, and two new employee cases at Pennypack Park, one of which was asymptomatic and one has not worked since late June. As expected and predicted, these results were not helpful – and the delay in obtaining the results, which is increasing, makes these tests a useless exercise.
Nonetheless, we will test all personal care residents and employees as mandated by Pennsylvania by the required 8/31 deadline.
It is our hope soon to be able to do onsite testing with immediate results, which would be truly effective in helping to control new cases.
Thank you for your vigilance in following all safety protocols and acting responsibly in order to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 throughout our communities. Please continue to do your part to follow guidelines with regard to masks anytime out in the public, including in the common areas of your WEL community. Proper social distancing and handwashing/sanitizing is everyone’s ongoing responsibility.
I implore everyone to continue to make wise choices when not in our communities, as to not increase your chance for transmission to your fellow residents and/or employees. Travel and summer vacations are a source of concern; if you travel to locations outside of PA that are considered “hot spots,” please follow self-quarantine precautions upon your return.
As Pennsylvania transitions through the colored phases identified by Governor Wolf, each WEL community is following the guidance of their specific county. At present, Doylestown, Main Line and Upper Moreland have begun slowly reopening and are in various stages of allowing visitors into the buildings, or at least have plans in place to do so for independent living and personal care residents. Philadelphia is operating under a modified green phase, and therefore our Pennypack Park, Stapeley, and Burholme communities are proceeding more cautiously to adhere to the county guidelines. Please check with your community Executive Director for specifics. Although we are anxious to welcome visitors back into all of our buildings in all levels of care, CMS has mandated that no skilled nursing visits are permissible until 28 days after a county has been transitioned into the Green phase.
We are concerned that as the surrounding communities begin to open and our residents and employees are increasingly out in those communities, and as we begin to welcome visitors back into the communities, to open dining rooms and restart activities and events, this increases the risk that we will see residents and employees become infected. Please share our concern on this potential and help us minimize this risk.
It’s important for me to acknowledge once again my gratitude toward all WEL employees over the past several months, you’ve shown strength and perseverance through this most difficult period. Additionally I want to again recognize our residents and family members for their continuing patience and support during these times – thank you for the trust you place in us.
Please stay well.