August 7, 2020
I am writing to you today to inform you of a recent change in the COVID-19 status of our staff. As you know we have been testing our staff every week and the nursing home residents for the last 3 weeks. The email I sent you on August 5th discussed the results of the July 27th – 28th testing. We received the results from the August 3rd and 4th tests yesterday and today for all the nursing home residents and all but two staff. The results for the nursing home residents and staff were negative except for one food service employee who tested positive. She is asymptomatic. She will not be back to work for 10 days.
Here is the cumulative report of Pickersgill’s experience with the COVID-19 virus since April 1, when we were informed of our first positive resident, including today’s update. Since we are testing staff weekly and testing residents when warranted, I am only including positive cases in the cumulative report:
- One assisted living resident tested positive for the virus.
- One nursing home resident tested positive for the virus.
- Five employees tested positive for the virus.
Mitigating Actions to Prevent or Reduce Risk
As you know, and I have reported previously, we have taken many mitigating actions to prevent or reduce the risk of transmission of the virus since the public health emergency was instituted. We have stopped outside visitors and deliveries from entering the building, separated the apartment residents from the assisted living and nursing home residents, ended all communal dining for residents, and encouraged our residents to remain in their room and practice social distancing. We are checking all assisted living and nursing home residents’ temperature and oxygen levels twice a day. We screen all healthcare staff and all employees who enter the building according to CDC guidelines; this includes taking their temperature upon entry. We require all employees to wear a face mask and other appropriate Personal Protective Equipment, as necessary, when interacting with or caring for a resident. We are also asking all residents to wear a face mask when they are not in their room or apartment.
We are following CDC, CMS, and Maryland Dept. of Health guidelines and testing any resident or employee who states that they have a respiratory symptom that could be a symptom of COVID-19. In addition, we are requiring that a resident is tested before being readmitted to the community from a hospital or other nursing home. However, many symptoms of COVID-19 are also symptoms of other respiratory illnesses. So, testing does not automatically mean that the individual has the disease. If an assisted living or nursing home resident has symptoms and is being tested, they are under strict isolation in their room. An isolation cart is outside their room and any staff who enter the room wear a face mask, face shield, gloves and gown. The resident also wears a face mask when an employee is in the room. This procedure continues until the test results are negative and the resident no longer has symptoms. Employees who have symptoms are excused from work until their test results are negative or they no longer have symptoms.
We are posting this same information on our website, www.pickersgillretirement.org on the News page. If there is someone with whom you would like to share this information, please have them visit our website.
Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns about this information. Thank you.
I am writing today to share with you Pickersgill’s response to the CoronaVirus or COVID-19 outbreak in Maryland. Protecting our residents is our primary concern. Currently, we don’t have any COVID-19 cases in the community. I know that you are following the news about the spread of the disease. Yesterday, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Governor Hogan met with representatives of the senior living and long-term care community on Tuesday to discuss the State of Maryland’s preparation and plans to contain (and now mitigate) Marylanders’ exposure to the virus, particularly for the staff, residents, and families of senior services organizations. Governor Hogan presented his recommendations to the public on Tuesday afternoon. You can watch it by clicking on this link: https://governor.maryland.gov/2020/03/10/governor-hogan-announces-ninth-positive-case-of-covid-19-in-maryland-issues-new-guidance-for-long-term-care-facilities/. At that presentation, he stated that effective immediately, senior living communities should restrict access and visitation. This was supported by the Federal Government that issued similar and more detailed guidance. We have decided to follow the Federal Government’s and Governor’s recommendations regarding visitor access.
Consequently, out of an abundance of caution and concern for the health and welfare of our residents and given the recommendations of the government, we have decided that visitors will not be allowed into the Pickersgill, whether it is independent living, assisted living or the nursing home. This became effective yesterday afternoon. We recognize that this is a very serious step but feel it is necessary at this time. However, visitors will be allowed when it is absolutely necessary, such as end-of-life situations, and will be determined on a case-by-case basis. All individuals who enter the building will be screened using CDC guidelines.
Despite these restrictions, we still need to operate the community. This means that certain individuals need to be on-site. This includes our staff, pharmacists, medical consultants, vendors and construction workers. Our staff are receiving training regarding COVID-19 so that they are knowledgeable about the signs and symptoms. The other individuals I listed are being screened regularly using CDC criteria. I realize that this is not a perfect solution but anything we can do to reduce our resident’s exposure to the virus we should do. I recognize that communicating with your family member is very important and we are exploring a variety of ways you could do that in addition to talking with them by telephone since you can’t visit with them.
We are monitoring this developing situation closely and complying with the protocols developed by the Maryland Dept. of Health, the Maryland Office of Health Care Quality (OHCQ), the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This is a very dynamic environment and I will let you know about any changes to these restrictions as soon as I know them. I am asking for your support while we work through this situation. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
Barry Eisenberg, FACHE, LNHA
Pickersgill Retirement Community
615 Chestnut Avenue, Towson, MD 21204