To all Chautauqua Residents and Families;
I asked to write this update this week from my perspective as one of the corporation’s Infection Preventionists. I just want everyone to know how serious this virus continues to be and how difficult it is to control.
Part of my job is to monitor local, regional, and state-wide trends regarding virus activity. Below is some info from the Iowa Department of Public Health on two neighboring counties with outbreaks in their nursing facilities. In Cerro Gordo County, Good Shepard, a 210 bed nursing facility, has experienced 118 residents and staff with COVID-19. In Franklin County, 2 nursing facilities have outbreaks. Sheffield Care Center, a 45 bed nursing facility has experienced 41 residents and staff with COVID and a 105 bed home in Hampton has 38 residents and staff with the virus and numbers increasing daily. These statistics should prove how important it is to do our best to keep the virus out of our buildings and how quickly it affects the majority of residents if it does appear in nursing homes.
In Floyd County towards the end of last week, we had a COVID 19 case count of 101. At 10 AM today, this number had risen to 133. When the virus is present within the community and spreading so rapidly, my concern is that the chances of us keeping it out of the facilities continue to decrease. I also know that our management team is getting lots of questions regarding visiting residents or residents going out of the facility. In my opinion, lessening restrictions at this time would increase the likelihood of an outbreak. I am fearful of the consequences of this.
Last week you read about our testing plan. This has been initiated and at this point we have not had any positive resident or staff tests.
I know that since March there has been lots of conflicting information regarding best practices. I can assure you that at Chautauqua we are doing our best to sort out and act on all scientifically based recommendations to provide as many safeguards as possible.
With widespread community outbreaks, we only have two defensive moves-limiting contact opportunities and PPE. Simply stated, to limit contact, screening of residents occurs 2-3 times each and every day. Staff are screened at the beginning and the end of their shifts. And visitation is still restricted to essential personnel. Group activities and communal dining are NOT occurring.
Regarding PPE, residents have cloth masks that are to be worn whenever interacting with anyone else (even during window visits). Staff wear procedure masks and eye protection when they enter the building and only remove the same when they check out except during their meals and breaks. When residents are in isolation or quarantine, more PPE is used.
I hope that everyone who reads this can appreciate the effect this has had on our employees. I cannot thank them enough for caring enough to follow all our directives and procedures. I encourage you to take the time to thank any of them-they all deserve it very frequently (like daily). Without their efforts, I am convinced we already would have had an outbreak. Our staff have once again proven how they put the residents first. Please appreciate this!
I also want you to know that if the worst happens and we do have an outbreak, it doesn’t mean we have failed. If this occurs, we need to support each other even more. If an outbreak occurs it will be despite all of our extensive efforts, not because we didn’t try. Again, with our community data, this becomes more and more likely.
Our other Infection Preventionist, Sandy Staudt and I have been in contact with county, regional, and state contacts as we update our efforts to fight COVID-19. Sandy recently talked to an administrator currently experiencing an outbreak. Her comment was “It’s like nothing you can imagine.” And a recent article in a long-term magazine stated it best when writing “we can’t worry about keeping the virus out, we have to figure out how to live with it” — a sobering comment that rings true to me.
Thanks for reading this long letter. Please realize that Chautauqua is doing its best and that we need all of you to continue to be involved in the lives of all the residents in any of the approved methods. We continue to be concerned about the psycho/social effects of this prolonged isolation for our residents and will help you stay connected in any manner. We are all committed to doing what’s right and keeping ALL of our residents safe.
Susan Ayers, RN, BSN, Infection Preventionist