FOR RESIDENTS AND FAMILY MEMBERS
Hello, this is Jeff Petty on Thursday April 23rd, this is my fourth weekly update about the effect of COVID- 19 on Wesley Enhanced Living. As always, you can access a written version of this message on our website, and these weekly updates will continue to be available Thursday afternoons.
In this update, I will share information about our communities generally and the latest actions we are taking to protect our residents and staff members. Updates from your Executive Director can provide additional details or information.
I begin by highlighting a crisis within this global health emergency that is not getting enough attention. Doctors and hospital workers are being widely praised as heroes – and they certainly deserve all of our gratitude – but those working in senior-living settings like the WEL communities are heroes too, and are performing the same kinds of miracles. And they too are also often facing this crisis with inconsistent resources and often criticism from local and state governments and health departments, as well as in the media.
Across our communities and the dozens and dozens of other elder-care locations around our region, these essential workers are going above and beyond to care for those in our charge. We are disappointed by the continual media focus that creates negative perceptions of senior living communities and nursing homes and staff during this crisis. Our employees consider our residents as if they are family, and these nurses, aides, food-service workers and others continue to inspire me every day. We should all find strength in their demonstrated commitment to compassion and reverence.
Thank you to all WEL employees. Please recognize them and join me in applauding them for remaining laser-focused on their duties even during these incredibly challenging conditions. Our teams have never worked harder, and we value their service.
As of right now, we have had numerous nursing residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 in each of our nursing communities, ranging from 12 to 18 at Pennypack Park, Doylestown and Main Line and 29 at Stapeley. Most of these residents are recovering in isolation in their community and a handful are at the hospital. A number of these positive residents have seen their symptoms largely or totally subside,
but given the total lack of knowledge about this virus, I am reluctant to call them recovered. Sadly, some residents have passed. We all know that does happen, however, the attrition rates in our nursing centers have increased from what is typical. Many of these residents had tested positive for the virus, some did not. It does seem likely that the virus has contributed to the passing of some of these residents and the increased rate. Our thoughts are with those residents loved ones at this time.
Pennypack Park, Stapeley, Main Line and Doylestown have all had one or two residents in independent living and personal care test positive, but because of the enhanced ability to isolate those residents the spread of the virus to date has been almost non-existent. All of our skilled nursing communities have employees who have tested positive for COVID – as few as 5 and as many as 35. These employees are mostly home in self-quarantine recuperating at this time, and a few have been cleared to return to work. Obviously this has put even more stress on the remaining employees to fill the void left by those who are out.
We have continued to struggle to acquire the personal protective equipment: the masks, gloves, gowns, and other important gear that we need to protect our employees and residents from the spread of this virus. Shortages were widespread in late March and early April but have been easing in past several weeks, but in some cases at sharply increased costs. However, until this virus is obliterated, this process will remain one of our top priorities – securing this essential PPE – a lifeline for our residents and employees.
You all know we have taken and continue to take numerous precautions in our communities to keep our residents and employees safe. WEL communities have been closed to all visitors since March 13. A few days later, we asked all residents to quarantine in their rooms and apartments and only leave their community for life-saving purposes.
We have implemented a combination of detailed isolation and quarantining protocols for any of our residents who show symptoms of the virus and any returning from the hospital. Any asymptomatic residents admitting directly from the home for any level of care, will be placed on a 14 day isolation order.
I have been so impressed with the response of residents and families – and I recognize that it gets more difficult to maintain with each passing day. But I stress how important it is to continue our vigilance.
Daily screenings are in place for all employees, monitoring their current health status/symptoms and temperatures. We have implemented a WEL Employee COVID Exposure Guideline Tool that directs employees as to actions they must take based on symptoms and possible exposure and includes direction when not to come to work and return to work criteria. Unfortunately, evidence continues to mount that this virus is being spread largely, or perhaps mostly, by asymptomatic individuals – so there is simply no way currently to screen people who show no symptoms but who may be spreading the virus. And the evidence around how long someone may be contagious is becoming less, not more, clear as time goes on. In short, we must all be as cautious as we can be.
All Employees and residents are required to follow CDC guidelines to help stop the spread of illness: frequent handwashing, using hand sanitizer, coughing or sneezing into your elbow, staying home if you are sick, and avoiding contact with others who are sick. Employees continue to be encouraged to practice social distancing and follow the government mandate to stay at home while not at work.
Please continue to submit your questions by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Please, also in your email, let us know which community you or your loved one, resides in.
Again, I want to thank all residents and families for their continued support. Our WEL employees continue to exemplify courage under fire. Wishing you all good health.