Transcript of Jeff Petty COVID-19 Weekly Audio Message: April 30, 2020

FOR RESIDENTS AND FAMILY MEMBERS

Hello, this is Jeff Petty on Thursday April 30th. You can find a written version of this on our website. Going forward, I will be updating these messages every-other-Thursday, but you can always get weekly updates and more specific information about your WEL community from your Executive Director. Our next audio communication from me will be on Thursday, May 14.

Before I provide a recap, I believe it is important to offer my perspective on less-recognized factors that have caused senior living communities and nursing homes to be hit hardest by this virus and the growing volume of misleading reporting that is being presented. We all know that COVID-19 is particularly aggressive in those with underlying conditions. In fact 92% of hospitalized COVID cases had underlying conditions. Of course, by definition all of our nursing and personal care residents have underlying conditions, some severe, and are therefore not only particularly susceptible to the virus, but are also more likely to suffer worse outcomes in general from it, or from any diseases.

There are a lot of unknowns about this virus, but we do know that the only possible way to totally avoid the virus is to completely cut off all interactions with others. Our resident’s needs, require frequent personal contact and interaction…24 hours a day by numerous people – all of whom are asymptomatic and unfortunately are potentially and unknowingly introducing the virus into their environment. This challenge is exacerbated by the profound shortage of protection supplies and equipment – decisions were made to prioritize funneling supplies to hospitals, making it exceedingly difficult, even impossible, to acquire even bare minimum quantities when we need them.

And from what we’re seeing from officials – from lack of testing, to shortages of PPE supply, and especially to constantly changing guidelines and restrictions – they were completely unprepared as well.

However, while we may have been dealt an unexpectedly unfortunate set of circumstances, we have no intention of yielding in any way under the weight of these current challenges. We are committed to continually adapting to the changing landscape and conditions in our communities to protect as many people as possible. We will continue to mobilize every resource we can to overcome the challenges in front of us and we are learning from this every day.

WEL UPDATE

As of right now, we have had approximately one-third of our nursing residents across all WEL communities test positive for COVID-19 with some communities somewhat higher, some lower.

Sadly, while the majority of these residents have or are recovering, we have had a much higher number of residents pass than normal, with many of them testing positive which is undoubtedly a contributing factor. Our thoughts continue to be with the families and friends of these residents, and of all of our residents.

Less than one percent of personal care and independent residents have contracted the virus, and as reported last week, this very low incidence is as a result of our enhanced ability in these settings to successfully isolate those residents. Upper Moreland and Burholme continue to be free of the virus for residents and employees. We have been able to trace nearly all of the handful of independent residents testing positive to those who, despite our admonitions not to, left the community for one reason or another – so please maintain your vigilance…it is imperative for your safety and that of other residents and WEL employees.

It is difficult to know definitively with the unknown and apparent widely differing delay in the presentation of symptoms and the persistent lagging in testing and test results, but it does appear that the number of residents with a new onset of symptoms in the past week has dropped sharply from the previous two weeks in every community.

All of our skilled nursing communities continue to have employees who have tested positive for COVID – now as few as 7 and as many as 40. These employees are mostly home in self- quarantine recuperating at this time, while a number of them have been cleared to return to work.

As noted above, we continue to struggle to acquire specific PPE despite an all-out push — right now we are experiencing particularly severe shortages for gowns, which seems to be an unfortunate trend across our state and in parts of the country. While we have received some donations, the majority of our outcomes are a result of our own intensive purchasing efforts for masks, gloves, gowns, and other important items that we need to protect our employees and residents from the spread of this virus. And often when these supplies are available, they are at sharply increased costs.

We continue to implement 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. Employees are following our daily screening protocols and are very diligent in using our WEL Employee COVID Exposure Guideline Tool as it relates to symptom criteria they need to follow as to reporting to work and returning to work.

In conclusion, there are two words I cannot say often enough: ‘Thank you’:

To our front-line staff and support team members who are working tirelessly to maintain our residents’ quality of life and some semblance of normalcy in this very abnormal time. To the residents for your adherence to the important safety measures we have in place and for your kind spirit. And finally, to our families for your patience, words of encouragement and kindness in trying to help us through this time. The Wesley Enhanced Living family is pulling together, and I greatly appreciate those efforts.

I encourage you to continue to submit questions and comments to our dedicated resident email at, residentquestions@wel.org, or for employees at employeequestions@wel.org. We are  doing our best to address those messages as we receive them.

Thank you again for everything and stay healthy and safe!

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