COVID-19
Updates for April 2020

APRIL 28, 2020

A MESSAGE FROM GREG CHAMBERY, ADMINISTRATOR

As of today we have no known cases of COVID-19 in the resident or staff population. Once again, we have good news to report this week.

Our Governor is saying that he is going to keep the State on hold for another two weeks. Beginning May 15th, he plans to allow some businesses to begin coming back online in a modified and gradual way. People are getting anxious to leave the house and enjoy a way of life that is closer to what they had before the “on pause” regulations began.

Here at Maplewood, there has obviously been a lot of activity focused on protection and transmission avoidance. In addition, we’ve been working on innovation and quality improvement. Today I would like to briefly tell you about what we are doing in each of these areas.

Despite all the COVID activity, people continue to need skilled nursing care. Anyone coming to us as a new admission is placed into quarantine for 14 days. In addition, anyone who needs to leave the facility for some kind of critical appointment or MD visit is also placed into quarantine for 14 days upon returning to Maplewood. Our infection control measures assume the resident has picked up the virus while outside the walls of the facility and we implement all necessary precautions as if that were the case. If this proves true during the quarantine, we will not be surprised and fear transmission. We feel very confident in this approach and it has served us well thus far.

As we look to the future, our country should never be as unprepared for this kind of situation as we were this time around. This is especially true for skilled nursing. We care for high risk people who are most vulnerable to a virus like the one we are now fighting.

We need to look at this new era in caring for our elders as a three level chess board:

  • The first level encompasses what a new baseline nursing home operating environment might look like a year from now. Let’s say we don’t see any more viruses over the next 12 months. What will our new operating baseline be when a virus is not apparent?
  • The second level is being operationally prepared and having enough supplies in the event another virus comes around. We need to be able to quickly move to a more tightened infection control model.
  • The third level is being able to sustain a stricter infection control protocol for a long period of time and do it in a way that supports quality.

During the 6 week “pause”, we have developed numerous innovations. We are making good use of this time by trialing ideas and launching programs that, if needed, we can implement quickly in the future. We will provide more information about these initiatives as we move forward.

We wish all our families and friends good health and safety. As always, we are taking excellent care of all the residents living at Maplewood and we thank their caregivers for entrusting us with their loved ones.

INFECTION PREVENTIONIST, JEANANN KUBISHIN, BS, RN, SHARES INFORMATION ABOUT MOTHER’S DAY GIFTS

Mother’s Day is coming up on May 10th and we’ve already started to receive questions about gifts for loved ones.

At this time, we are only accepting mail and flowers or plants from florists (we cannot accept these items from your garden or home). Feel free to send Mother’s Day cards and if you’d like to send a gift, ordering flowers or plants are wonderful.

Please keep the following in mind:

  • Mail is picked up at the post office and delivered to residents each day, Monday through Friday. Please plan ahead for special occasions by mailing cards to arrive at least one day ahead.
  • Our business office is handling all florist deliveries. Please arrange for any deliveries to arrive Monday through Friday between 9 am – 4:30 pm. Unfortunately, deliveries attempted at other times cannot be accepted.

APRIL 21, 2020

A MESSAGE FROM GREG CHAMBERY, ADMINISTRATOR

As of today we have no known cases of COVID-19 in the resident or staff population. We continue to do all we can to lessen the chances of the virus entering our building. The only reason I have been able to report this good news to you each week is the heroic efforts I see every day coming from the Maplewood staff. Each Maplewood team member has had a role in our success. Our employees are true heroes and I am so thankful to them for all they do.

This has been a difficult week for nursing homes and assisted living facilities in our state. There are a number of facilities that are mainly located in the New York City area that have suffered large numbers of resident deaths. We see the numbers on the news reports and it heightens our fear as to what might happen if Maplewood or any other facility were to announce that there is COVID-19 in the building.

What the news reports don’t mention are some vital facts about the situation and I think it’s important to share this information with you. On March 25, 2020, all administrators in the state received a letter from the Department of Health. The letter announced an emergency regulation that had just been issued, giving orders to all facilities in New York as follows:

“No resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to the NH solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19. NHs are prohibited from requiring a hospitalized resident who is determined medically stable to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or re-admission.”

At Maplewood, we sat down with our Medical Director and administrative team and went over the implications of this directive. We could hardly believe what the DOH was requiring of nursing homes. It was our understanding that all the social distancing, stay at home messaging and shut down of society was to protect the kind of high risk people that live in nursing homes. Now, in essence, the DOH was requiring nursing homes to admit COVID patients that were medically stable. All of this came at a time when nursing homes, and even the hospitals, did not have the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for their staff to safely care for folks with the virus. There was great fear in the nursing home community that this new regulation was going to lead to a very bad outcome.

During the last week of March, the situation in NYC hospitals was very serious. More than 700 people were coming into hospitals each day. Once some of those people were treated in the hospital for a couple of days and were relatively stable, they needed somewhere to go to make room for more patients. Since the hospitals were over capacity, the nursing homes in and around NYC accepted many of these patients. These patients did not acquire COVID-19 from the facility; rather, they brought it into the facility. Many of these facilities did not, and still do not, have the PPE they need to care for these patients properly.

Now these facilities are being painted as the villains in the news media when, in fact, they were just following the orders placed upon them by the DOH. I was the Chairperson of the state nursing home association from 2015-2018. During that time, I visited many facilities and became acquainted with some of the buildings and administrators that we are seeing in the news. The people that run these facilities are extremely dedicated, just like us. My heart goes out to these brave people who are doing all they can to make the best out of a very bad situation.

In Rochester, fortunately, there has not been a hospital surge like we saw in NYC. Therefore, unlike NYC, we have not seen an immense pressure on nursing homes to relieve hospitals by taking COVID positive patients. At this point, I don’t see that happening. Maplewood is currently in good shape with our PPE supplies. We are confident in our preparedness efforts and ability to handle the situation should the virus enter our building. As mentioned earlier, we have no known cases of COVID in the resident or staff population. It is important to celebrate our successes at Maplewood in the fight against the virus. At the same time, we know that we are only at the halfway mark and there is still much work to be done.

Thank you for all your well wishes to us. Our families and the general public continue to prop us up and give us what we need to boldly take on each day as we care for our residents.

MICHAEL FALL, DIRECTOR OF DINING SERVICES, PRESENTS DINING EVENTS ON THE GO

As you know, dining services has shifted gears recently to provide social distancing during meals. Over the past several weeks, rather than communal dining at shared tables, we’ve been delivering room service meals.

We are working hard to make sure dining at The Maplewood continues to be a high quality and pleasant experience. We continue to offer our full regularly served menu with fresh, made to order dishes. To add more variety, each day we offer lunch and dinner specials.

Lately, we’re focusing on adding some fun to our dining experience. After all, food is a terrific source of enjoyment.

On Thursday, April 16, we hosted our first Ice Cream Delivery Day. We played ice cream truck music as we went room to room offering ice cream sundaes. Residents could choose banana split, fudge brownie or strawberry shortcake sundaes. It was quite a hit!

Then, on Friday, April 17, we hosted a happy hour. Once again we grabbed our portable food station, this time stocking it with wine, beer, strawberry daiquiris and lemonade, as well as homemade pretzel bites and cheese appetizers. Residents were delighted to see us as we brought happy hour to them in their rooms.

We plan to do more of these types of dining treat deliveries.


Mike and Chef Arin take their portable ice cream station around The Maplewood making sundaes for residents.

APRIL 14, 2020

A MESSAGE FROM GREG CHAMBERY, ADMINISTRATOR

As of today we have no known cases of COVID-19 in the resident or staff population. We continue to hold very tight to our infection prevention activities. We know that we cannot be complacent in our attitude and actions as we continue to push back against this threat.

Today marks one month since we were ordered to “pause” and curtail visiting hours at Maplewood. Since that time a lot has happened both inside and outside the building. We are all becoming increasingly anxious to come down the other side of this situation and get to a different place. The struggle between safety and re-opening that we see in the news is beginning to seep into the consciousness of both residents and staff. We know that our turn will come slowly and deliberately as the health officials weigh the consequences of withdrawing the strict isolation orders currently in place.

As we inevitably begin to see the re-opening of society, I would ask for your patience and understanding. Contrary to the start of the “pause” where we were the first group to be restricted, we will surely see a tendency of caution toward nursing homes. My sense is that Maplewood and other long term care facilities will be the last group to be afforded a relaxing of restrictions.

The Maplewood staff remain our greatest asset. They are truly caring professionals. Our attitude toward residents and families can best be described by one of our nurses. She spoke of a news article that was not complementary toward a different facility. It bothered her deeply to think the public might rely on this information to create an opinion of what she does each day at The Maplewood. She said “I wish everyone knew how much we love and care for our residents”. I don’t think I could say it any better.

Our thoughts go out to all our families as you all work to stay well during this unusual time.

 

INFECTION PREVENTIONIST, JEANANN KUBISHIN, BS, RN, SHARES ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS OFTEN ASKED BY RESIDENT FAMILY MEMBERS

We understand that families and friends have a lot of concerns and questions about how The Maplewood is protecting residents. Since some questions come up often, I thought it would be helpful to provide some information in the form of questions and answers.

Are you prepared if a case occurs among staff or residents?
Yes – this is a respiratory virus and we are accustomed to handling influenza (also a respiratory virus), which requires similar precautions. Our staff is trained annually, and, given the current situation, we have recently re-reviewed these procedures with all staff.

Do you have enough staff?
Yes. In addition, we have an alternative staffing plan in place should it be necessary and many of our staff are cross trained and can work in multiple departments. Our staff is a dedicated group of people and they are prepared to fill in should we need them to take on additional shifts or duties.

Do you have enough supplies? 
Yes – despite supply shortages, we have been able to find alternative suppliers for high demand items such as masks and other protective gear, hand sanitizer, soap, disinfectants, etc. We’ve also had many people from our community make reusable fabric masks for us, which is a wonderful help.

What are you doing to prevent staff from bringing the virus into the nursing home?
We have many protocols in place to minimize the chance that staff could infect someone at The Maplewood. Here are some examples of staff precautions that have been added to our routine infection protocols:

  • All staff has been educated about the virus, how it spreads, how to minimize risk and what they need to do personally.
  • Each time they arrive for work, all staff is screened with mandatory temperature taking and a series of questioning. They must wash/sanitize hands and put on a mask. Personal belongings from home are kept in a locker before entering the building.
  • Staff cannot leave the building during their shift.
  • Staff is practicing social distancing even when they are not near residents (for example, during breaks)

 

APRIL 7, 2020

A MESSAGE FROM GREG CHAMBERY, ADMINISTRATOR

As of today we have no known cases of COVID-19 in the resident or staff population. We continue to be pleased to be able to make this announcement each week so far. I am convinced the early interventions and the stringent approaches we are using have had a tremendous influence on our ability to keep the COVID-19 virus from entering our building.

I thought it might be helpful to give some important dates and explain some of the activities that went with those dates so that you could understand our success in the infection control situation at The Maplewood.

  • End Family Visits 3/13/2020 – 14 days out March 27th
  • Staff Masking 3/16/2020 – 14 days out March 30th
  • Mandatory Staff Temperature Testing, Questioning and Hand Washing on the Way Into the Facility Each Day 3/16/20 – 14 days out March 30th

As we look at the information above, it becomes clear that we can draw a couple conclusions. First, we know that prohibiting visitors prevented COVID-19 from coming into the building from outside family and friends. Second, the masking and screening/temperature testing has done a couple things. It has eliminated the notion that a staff member with an active temperature or someone who has been exposed knowingly to someone else with the virus could enter the building freely without us knowing about it. Additionally, if a staff member is asymptomatic, the masking will prevent that staff member from spreading droplets around the facility.

One more precaution that is going in place today is the use of telemedicine. Our physicians and physician extenders are being utilized in other facilities that have the COVID-19 virus. Obviously they are using every precaution they can to protect themselves. Despite these actions, there are reports of medical folks working with the virus, who end up getting the virus. Telemedicine should help us avoid our doctors bringing the virus into Maplewood.

As you can see, there has been an intense and methodical approach to keeping the virus out of The Maplewood. There can be no guarantee that all these actions will absolutely keep us virus free, but I can tell you that these measures have helped us maintain our status and narrowed the opening to COVID-19 appearing in our building.

As always, taking care of Maplewood residents is our highest honor and priority. We thank residents and families for placing their trust in us.

 

A MESSAGE FROM LIZ BENEDICT, DIRECTOR OF THERAPY AND WELLNESS

It’s a difficult time for all of us. With the new restrictions imposed on all of us, I’m sure you are all feeling antsy and wanting to get out there and just do “something”. Our residents are also having the need to do that. Maintaining activity is beneficial to emotional and physical well-being.

Our Therapy Department took pride in providing Group Exercise Classes. However with the new CDC guidelines, it is recommended that we maintain social distancing. Rest assured, our department is still actively addressing individual exercise needs and attempting to maintain some type of normalcy. We just run our programs on a one-on-one basis now.

We have recently revamped some of our exercise equipment to better meet the needs of our long term care population. Our newest equipment is the Sci-Fit Recumbent Stepper. This particular machine allows individuals to move their legs and arms simultaneously, while seated in the reclining seat or in his/her own wheelchair. The machine has various options such as adjusting the intensity and duration of your workout. Most residents have challenged themselves by keeping track of miles covered and duration they are on the machine. Aside from the cardiovascular and physical benefits, residents can engage in social interaction or they can watch and listen to some music videos on the nearby large screen TV.

Use of this machine is available to any of our residents. Therapy staff is offering it to anyone we believe would have success with it. Many residents are using it each day and are enjoying the chance to try something new.

Note: Family members who have opted to receive the Monthly Activities and Therapy Report for their loved one will see, on a daily basis, every recreation and therapy activity the resident participated in during the month.

APRIL 3, 2020

A MESSAGE FROM GREG CHAMBERY, ADMINISTRATOR

As of today, we have no known cases of COVID-19 in the resident or staff population. All of the protection measures to guard against transmission that we have talked about in previous news updates are still in place.

We continue to evolve in our ability to provide meaningful social activities for the residents in our care. Our staff is exceptional in so many ways. Every day I am amazed by the spirit of teamwork in our building. Our people continually demonstrate an ability to go far above and beyond what would normally be considered to be elements of their jobs. It makes me very confident to know there could not be a better group to meet this particular challenge.

As we move forward, you may see a little more or a little less of my comments in these Family Update emails. I appreciate the fact that many organizations are sending out a lot of emails and newsletters these days. While I will continue to keep you well informed, I feel it’s important that I only put information out there that will be valuable to you.

Please know that we are all working very hard to protect everyone in our care and that we continue to be thankful for your encouragement and prayers for all of us at The Maplewood.

 

INFECTION PREVENTIONIST, JEANANN KUBISHIN, BS, RN, SHARES TIPS FOR CARING FOR THE ELDERLY IN THE COMMUNITY DURING THE COVID-19 CRISIS

I’m worried about an elderly loved one I care for. How do I best protect them from getting COVID-19?
The best prevention is good hand washing, covering your cough, staying away if you are sick and practicing social distancing. If you must be within 6 feet of your loved one and do not have a mask to wear, scarfs or bandanas are a safe alternative.

What if I’m caring for an elderly loved one and someone in my home gets infected with COVID-19?
If someone within your household tests positive for COVID-19, you and your loved ones will be advised by the Department of Health as to what measures you will need to take.

What should I do if I think my elderly loved one might have COVID-19?
If you think that you or your loved one has COVID-19 (fever, dry cough, shortness of breath), the first thing to do is to call the Primary Doctor. If you do not have a Primary Doctor, then call the Department of Health COVID-19 Hot line Number at 585-753-555. Do not go to Emergency or the doctor’s office without calling first.

What do I do if my elderly loved one requires nursing care during the crisis?
Nursing facilities and home care agencies are all being guided by the Department of Health and CDC as to preventative measures to implement to keep elders safe during this crisis. Your Primary Doctor will direct you in this process as services are needed for you loved one.

Are nursing facilities accepting new residents during the crisis?
Yes, for the most part, but we can only speak for The Maplewood. We are accepting new residents as rooms become available as long as we can meet your loved ones needs. As new residents enter our facility, there will be a screening process and precautions implemented based on the new resident’s risk of exposure to COVID-19 prior to entering Maplewood.

Additional information is available on the NYS Department of Health website at: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/home 

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