April 20, 2020 – Family Letter
Dear Residents and Families,
As Massachusetts experiences what experts believe to be the peak for new COVID-19 cases, senior care living organizations have become the focus of attention given the highly vulnerable population we serve. We share in the immense grief felt across our industry and broader communities as we have also experienced the loss of cherished residents and friends due to COVID-19. We offer our sincere condolences to their families and comfort our employees who have cared for them for years. We plan to honor and celebrate the lives of those we lost once this crisis passes.
Though we grieve, we must continue our mission of caring for our residents and employees. We would like to share an update about our response to COVID-19 and assure you that we are in a good position to make it through this unprecedented crisis.
We are very fortunate to have an experienced and committed team who knows our residents and has been dedicated to caring for them since before this crisis. While other area senior care facilities have experienced staffing shortages, we continue to have appropriate staffing levels to ensure that the high quality care we provide is uninterrupted. One strategy we have used is to redeploy staff from non-critical functions and areas to supplement our clinical teams. We also are actively participating in the state’s recruitment efforts on behalf of senior care facilities. Through all these efforts, we have avoided the need to use staffing agencies to hire temporary employees.
If you know of anyone who may be interested in some of the roles critically needed in our long term care facilities in Massachusetts, please encourage them to visit https://covid19ltc.umassmed.edu/ to register.
Personal Protective Equipment
Having the right personal protective equipment for our staff to use is important to safeguard the health of our residents and staff. In accordance to a change in the CDC guidelines, each of our facilities has adopted a universal mask protocol for all employees while on site. For those staff members caring for residents who have tested positive in our isolation units, additional equipment such as face shields and gowns are used.
While personal protective equipment like N95 respirators, surgical masks, and gowns continue to be in short supply, we have secured adequate supplies by working with new and existing vendors and through generous donations from the community. We have put in place a daily system to monitor our supply level and proactively place orders. We are also beginning to participate in the mask decontamination program offered by Partners Healthcare and Battelle to further conserve our supply.
Testing and Isolation Units
Active monitoring of signs and symptoms and testing of residents and staff continues in all our sites. Any resident testing positive is cared for by a dedicated team in an isolation unit or quarantined in a private apartment, regardless of their signs and symptoms. We are heartened to see many residents remain asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. Some of our residents who have COVID-19 are already recovering. We fully celebrate every resident who has now tested negative after successfully fighting this virus.
Due to the increasing needs of the state for COVID-19 recovery beds and an urgent appeal by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, we will be participating in a program to open our isolation units to admissions of patients recovering from COVID-19. Please note that these admissions do not impact the care we are providing to any of our residents and do not increase the risk of spread.
Support and Partnership
We have continued to be proactive to meet the needs of our residents and employees. It is our goal to remain at the forefront of our industry as we tackle COVID-19 and provide quality care. As we communicated recently, we secured wide-scale testing resources by contracting with a private lab before authorities established programs or removed restrictions. That is just one example of our ability to expand our capabilities and improve our care.
We expect our partnership with MA DPH in accepting recovering COVID-19 patients to help us access additional support and resources from the state like personal protective equipment. As the vice-chair of the Massachusetts Senior Care Association, Adam has also advocated for more aggressive and robust steps from the state in supporting facilities like ours to weather the pandemic.
In the meantime, we have taken advantage of our connections to the incredible health care community in Massachusetts. We have begun a partnership with MIT’s COVID-19 Alliance to try to develop on-site rapid testing in collaboration with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. We have also consulted with experts at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and MIT on the latest outlooks for COVID spread and mitigation efforts.
Lastly, we are grateful for the generous donations from organizations like Ocean State Job Lot who provided food for our staff. We also want to thank many of our families and other individuals who have graciously contributed to our Employee Assistance Fund.
We know how difficult this time has been for everyone, and we want you to know we are here to support you as well. We will continue to provide regular updates on our status. If you have any questions or want to share words of encouragement or support for our staff, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.