WRC Weekly COVID-19 Update
We’re sharing our weekly update to keep WRC employees, residents, and families informed of changing regulations and policies at the national and state level, as well as within the WRC continuum. Thank you to all WRC essential workers!
- President Trump has unveiled guidelines for Opening Up America Again, a three-phased approach based on the advice of public health experts. These steps will help state and local officials when reopening their economies, getting people back to work, and continuing to protect American lives. Three “gating” criteria must be met before his plan can take place: symptoms of COVID-19 and Influenza-like illnesses (ILI) must decrease over a 14-day period, a trajectory of documented cases and positive tests must decrease over a 14-day period, and hospitals must treat all patients without crisis care and have implemented robust testing program for at-risk healthcare workers.
- PA Governor Wolf signed an order to provide targeted distribution of COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies to hospitals. The order requires all healthcare facilities (including WRC communities at Laurelbrooke Landing, Edgewood Heights, Highland Oaks, and Ridgmont) to report the amount of PPE and supplies they currently have on hand. Then, based on need, PPE could be sent to WRC facilities or reassigned to other facilities in greater need.
- WRC has formed an internal taskforce dedicated to acquiring PPE for staff. This taskforce is in communication with vendors daily and are working diligently to acquire the PPE our staff need to protect themselves throughout this pandemic. All WRC employees have received fabric masks to wear at work and for personal use, as per the PA Department of Health’s universal masking
- WRC’s pandemic planning committee reviews the changing regulations and recommendations daily. All information and regulations for the WRC continuum is being gathered from the following sources: The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), World Health Organization (WHO), the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH), and the ECRI institute. Additionally, WRC participates in daily conference calls with LeadingAge, and weekly calls with our colleagues at the Faith Affiliation Insurance Program (FAIP) to keep abreast of happenings within the senior living industry. We are dedicated to keeping our residents and employees safe and informed.
- The PA Department of Health (DOH) has waived regulations and endorsed temporary Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) programs to help staff skilled nursing facilities. Additionally, CMS has released guidelines and waivers for doctors to see WRC residents in both skilled nursing and in personal care settings via telehealth to minimize contact with residents.
- In collaboration with Dr. Janice Semeyn and Clarion Healthworks, McKinley Health Center’s nursing staff and Home Solutions Home Health staff will be receiving an OSHA fitting for N-95 respirators.
- New guidelines have emerged from the CDC and the PA DOH regarding potential exposures and contact tracing. A potential exposure as, “A household contact of having close contact within 6 feet of an individual with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 for at least 10 minutes. The timeframe for having contact with an individual includes the period of time of 48 hours before the individual became symptomatic.” Life-sustaining business workers may be permitted to continue work following potential exposure to COVID-19, provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community. The CDC has also released recommendations for contact tracing in the case that a resident, patient, or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, and include guidelines for assessing risk levels of exposures.
- Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has updated reporting guidelines in the event of a positive COVID-19 resident in a facility. Regulations now require reporting positive COVID-19 cases to the CDC, as well as to state and local health departments. Residents and their representatives must now be informed within 12 hours of a confirmed COVID infection, or if three or more residents or staff have new-onset respiratory symptoms that occur within 72 hours.
- WRC has a crisis communication plan in place in the event a resident or staff member should test positive for COVID-19. The plan includes recommendations for how employees should address media requests, as well as templates of letters and phone scripts for interactions with residents and their representatives. Questions surrounding crisis communications should be directed to Catie Clark-Gordon, Director of Strategic Communication, at 814-220-2142 or [email protected].
- The Pioneer Network is offering the “ABC’s of combating loneliness and isolation” to engage and connect residents and elders with their family, friends and communities as we navigate this changing world. Resources included recommendations for activities, dining, individuals living with dementia, and inspiration for caregivers. Check it out for new ideas on what colleagues in the senior living industry are doing!
- Current recommendations from the DOH, the CDC, and in an order by PA DOH Health Secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, require universal masking. That means that everyone should be wearing a mask when out in public and in a workplace setting. The fabric/cloth masks that are currently recommended need to be washed daily, and should not be worn when damp or wet. Therefore, employees should be issued at least two fabric masks, as the same mask should not be worn two days in a row without washing. Remember: “My mask protects you, your mask protects me.”