COVID-19 NEWS AND UPDATES
UPDATE: Monday, May 11, 2020
Our reopening task force has been working hard to examine the data; review guidelines from the CDC, the Governor, Emory Healthcare, et al; and develop new protocols so that we can relax some restrictions while still being safe. Within the next few days your executive director or administrator will share the plan for your community.
This is not a one size fits all approach. Reopening plans will reflect the unique qualities and conditions of your community. While many services and amenities will be reintroduced, we still need your cooperation adhering to a number of safety precautions.
It has been 63 days since we began sheltering in place, adapting our services and introducing safety protocols. Because of the diligence of staff and the cooperation of residents, Wesley Woods has had only a handful of cases (fewer than 10) across all our communities. And, thankfully, everyone has recovered or is recovering.
As we have experienced throughout this ordeal conditions change (sometimes rapidly), and we will continue to be nibble and adapt our practices when we receive new data and new recommendations.
I know this has been challenging. I admire your grit, perseverance and strength. Your patience, understanding and good humor has been an inspiration.
I look forward to the good hair days ahead for all of us!
President & CEO
Wesley Woods Senior Living
UPDATE: Friday, April 24, 2020
Governor Kemp’s announcement this week to allow some non-essential businesses to reopen as early as today has been met with both hope and trepidation. We are all eager to get back to some sense of normalcy. Yet, the number of COVID-19 cases continues to grow in Georgia (21,102) with a total of 846 deaths as of yesterday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stresses that older adults and those with underlying medical conditions remain at high risk for severe illness. The Governors announcement still requires older adults to shelter in place until May 13, so we are taking a guarded stance and believe it is still too early to ease up on restrictions. We have yet have a serious outbreak of COVID-19, and I believe it is because we took precautions well before the Governor’s mandate including recent testing in some of our communities and thorough cleanings conducted by the national guard in others.
Just as we gradually added restrictions to our policies and procedures during this pandemic, we expect the easing of restrictions to be measured. Wesley Woods has assembled a task force to develop a protocol for reopening portions of our communities, adding back some communal services and ultimately allowing for some visits from the outside. We hope to share this plan next week.
The safety of our residents and staff are always our highest priority. We are proud of how our community has come together during these trying times and appreciate everyone’s patience and cooperation. We look forward to the day in the very near future when the phrase “coming together as a community” once again has a literal meaning.
President & CEO
Wesley Woods Senior Living
UPDATE: Friday, April 17, 2020
A LETTER TO RESIDENTS & FAMILY MEMBERS
FROM WESLEY WOODS PRESIDENT & CEO TERRY BARCROFT
Dear residents and family members,
I want to thank all of you for being so accommodating and helpful in the midst of this crisis. We are all experiencing firsthand how difficult it is to be separated from loved ones.
But, thanks to your cooperation and early adoption of our social distancing protocols as well as the professionalism and diligence of our staff, we have had only four positive tests for COVID-19 across our 10 Wesley Woods communities— two residents at Branan Towers, one at Wesley Woods Towers and an employee at Wesley Woods of Athens. In the case of the person who tested positive in Athens, the employee has made a full recovery and is back at work. And, thankfully, one of the Branan Towers residents has made a full recovery and is back home. The other two are currently in the hospital and doing well.
To adapt to this rapidly changing situation, the administrators of all Wesley Woods communities meet daily via conference call to address the problems of the day and anticipate the challenges for the future. A number of us are also on a daily call with Emory Healthcare and benefit from the experience and insights of the medical professionals on the front lines fighting the virus. Protocols and procedures are reviewed and updated as conditions change and new guidance is given by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Public Health. I encourage you to share any concerns or ideas you may have with the administrator of your family member’s community.
I want to thank you again for your strict adherence to our updated policies and procedures and your care and concern for our staff and your loved ones. We have truly come together as a community in spirit, if not in the same space! There is no doubt this is why we have weathered this situation so well so far. We have a long way to go, but I know we are going to make it thanks to you and our residents and staff.
I wish you well and hope that we will all be reunited with our families soon.
President & CEO
Wesley Woods Senior Living
UPDATE: Friday, April 3, 2020
On behalf of the staff and residents of Wesley Woods, thank you. We appreciate your encouragement, patience and grace during this challenging time. We understand how difficult it has been for our residents and their family to shelter in place while necessary precautions of social distancing have been implemented.
We continue to follow the guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Georgia Department of Public Health and our regulatory partners in an effort to keep our residents and staff safe. Our staff are routinely trained on and practice infection control procedures as a standard work process, however; we have increased sanitation practices at each of our communities with a focus on high touch areas.
As a result of CDC, DPH and CMS guidance, we have made the changes below in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus at Wesley Woods.
Recognizing that older adults are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19, Wesley Woods has made the decision that no visitors are allowed in any of our communities. Critical vendors including healthcare and hospice personnel will be allowed to continue to perform their prescribed visits but they will be required to be screened before entering the building.
ACTIVITIES & SOCIAL DISTANCING
Per the CDC and the President’s guidelines, we are strongly encouraging all of our residents to practice social distancing and remain in their apartment homes. We request that all residents refrain from gathering in common area spaces. Additionally, all community activities that require congregating, such as exercise classes, social gatherings, etc. have been cancelled until further notice. The Fitness and Wellness centers are closed until further notice. In addition, we have requested that residents limit their own trips to and from the community.
Select communities are no longer allowing residents to leave the community, due to the safety and care for residents in long-term care programs. Should residents choose to leave, they will be required to quarantine themselves for 14 days upon return.
To combat the effects of isolation that social distancing brings to our residents, each Wesley Woods community has implemented creative programming, such as virtual fitness classes on in-house tv channels and Facebook Live. They deliver snacks to spread joy, make check-in calls on residents and provide “room service” since communal dining is no longer an option. Book and other discussion groups have adapted to occur via conference and video calls, and art and essay contests are taking place to provide residents creative outlets. One community implemented a “radio-style” call-in contest held over the intercom to keep residents engaged and energized. “Fun packets” that include word searches and crosswords are placed on resident doors each day, and some communities have printed instructions for safe balance and physical fitness exercises for residents to do inside their apartments. Wesley Woods team members have the well-being of residents on the forefront of their minds and hearts today and always.
Wesley Woods has cancelled congregate dining and has begun delivering all meals to the residents’ apartment home.
We are discontinuing non-essential transportation. Transportation to the grocery store will continue at this time, however; protocols have been instituted to screen and limit the number of passengers per trip. Social distancing and sanitation protocols are required. Because our residents represent a vulnerable population, we strongly encourage all residents to engage delivery services to order supplies or have family members deliver needed items. Delivery drop off points have been established for each community.
All staff are screened for signs and symptoms, included temperature monitoring at the start of each shift. We encourage any staff member to report any signs of illness and stay home if sick.
UPDATE: Thursday, March 26, 2020
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued Executive Order 2020-21 which mandates a 14-day “stay-at-home” order. The Order was issued as a result of consultation with healthcare providers who stated we would enter a “point of no return” and every day of delay would lead to an “earlier and higher peak of infected Georgians.” As a result, Atlanta residents are directed to stay inside their homes for the 14-day period except to access essential services. Long-term care services and housing for older adults are considered essential, therefore Wesley Woods employees who reside within the Atlanta city limits are considered exempt.
In addition, Dekalb County CEO Michael Thurmond has initiated a voluntary curfew from 9:00 p.m. – 6:00 a.m. Governor Brian Kemp, announced several measures aimed directly at flattening the curve, including a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people and a shelter-in-place order for “medically fragile” residents, this would include most, if not all, of our residents. While no other city where we have a community has issued such an order, your leaders are monitoring information coming from local leadership, the Department of Public Health and the CDC.
What does this mean for Wesley Woods?
Our communities provide critical 24-hour housing and services to Georgia’s vulnerable older adults. We will continue to staff our communities appropriately to manage the needs of our residents.
As stated in the Executive Directive, long-term care workers and those providing housing and service to older adults, (such as our HUD housing communities) are exempt allowing our team members to come and go to our place of work. This includes our essential support personnel, such as environmental services, maintenance, food and nutrition and others who are deemed essential to work at our communities and not telecommuting.
The order to Shelter in Place will help reduce the spread of COVID-19 throughout Atlanta and Georgia in the days and weeks to come. I appreciate the commitment, creativity and compassion shown in serving our residents and each other.
Wesley Woods Senior Living
UPDATE: Tuesday, March 17, 2020
Recognizing that older adults are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19, Wesley Woods has made the decision that no visitors are allowed in any of our long-term care communities. Healthcare and hospice personnel will be allowed to continue to perform their prescribed visits, but they will be required to be screened before entering the building.
ACTIVITIES & SOCIAL DISTANCING
Per the CDC and the President’s guidelines, we are strongly encouraging all of our residents to practice social distancing. In addition, we have cancelled all congregate activities such as exercise classes, social gatherings, etc. until further notice. We request that all residents refrain from gathering in common area spaces. The Fitness and Wellness centers are closed until further notice. We have asked residents to limit their own trips to and from the community.
Wesley Woods has cancelled congregate dining and has begun delivering all meals to the residents’ apartments.
We are discontinuing non-essential transportation. Trips to the grocery store and pharmacy will continue at this time, however; protocols have been instituted to limit the number of passengers per trip and the staff will sanitize the bus after each trip.
We encourage residents to order groceries on-line. Residents are also asked to have a 30 day supply of necessary medications.
We have created and updated several policies to help inform and protect our staff in regards to Covid-19. We have provided training on our Universal Precautions protocol, communicable disease protocol and released new protocols for Covid-19 to educate our team on how to stay safe, how to recognize symptoms, and what to do in the case of suspected symptoms in themselves, family members, vendors and our residents.
We have reviewed all our 3rd party providers policies for screening their associates. We have communicated our policies and restrictions on visitation to our providers and vendors. We have also leveraged our partnership with our national vendors to ensure we have sufficient supplies for our communities.
As you have perhaps experienced, Wesley Woods has put in place many new safety procedures in response to the recently classified pandemic of COVID-19. Wesley Woods is following the guidance of local and state agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control, the Georgia Department of Public Health, as well as, daily, communication with Emory Healthcare leadership. Below is helpful information for you and your families and the latest information about policies and procedures to ensure the safety and health of residents and staff.
What Is the New Coronavirus (COVID-19) and What Are the Symptoms?
As stated by the CDC, this is a new disease and they are still learning how it is spread. Currently, it appears that the virus is primarily spread from person to person through close contact or through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is thought that people are most contagious when they are symptomatic.
Symptoms Can Appear 2-14 Days After Exposure:
Shortness of breath
Ensuring our community is safe is our primary responsibility, and our age population is already considered vulnerable. It may be necessary for residents to be quarantined in their apartment to minimize the spread of the virus. We will communicate with you and your families if this becomes necessary. In light of that possibility, it is advised that residents have on hand fresh water, some shelf-stable foods and a 30-day supply of medications.
Measures to Prevent Transmission of the Virus
The CDC recommends you practice infection control like you would with any other virus:
Wash your hands often, with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Dry your hands thoroughly after washing.
If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, and rub your hands until they are dry. We have hand sanitizer stations positioned at the front desk.
Stay at home when you are sick.
Use a tissue if you cough or sneeze. Only cough/sneeze into your elbow if no tissue is available. Do cough or sneeze into your hands. Wash your hands thoroughly after coughing/sneezing.
If you sneeze into a tissue, throw it out immediately into a trash can, and then wash your hands thoroughly.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a household cleaning spray or wipe.
Wearing a face mask is not recommended for people who are well, but if you have some of the symptoms listed above and must leave your apartment, call the reception desk for guidance.
Policies and Procedures for Infected Residents
If you are experiencing fever, cough, or shortness of breath you should contact your physician immediately. If it is recommended that you seek medical attention, contact the reception desk for instructions on exiting the building.
Any resident who has been tested for Covid-19 and awaiting diagnosis or has been diagnosed with Covid-19 without hospitalization will be required to follow the recommended protocol as directed by the Department of Public Health and self-quarantine. If you are returning from a medical appointment and have been instructed by health officials to self-quarantine until results are final, you must call the reception desk for instructions on entry to the building.
The following protocol has been put into place:
Entry into the building:
- When the resident arrives at the front desk and announces that they are under orders to self-quarantine, the front desk staff will immediately notify the Administrator or the supervisor in charge.
- If the resident does not identify themselves as being under self-quarantine but the front desk security staff suspects that they are returning from travel, either international or domestic, or has been diagnosed with Covid-19 the resident will be detained in a private area until a supervisor is able to speak with them.
- Any resident that is under quarantine will be required to wear an appropriate surgical mask at all times while entering or exiting their apartment to enter or leave the building.
Use of elevator
- Arrangements must be made for the elevator car to be cleared of all other passengers before the resident under quarantine uses it to go to their apartment.
- A staff member will accompany them to utilize the express function of the elevator to avoid unnecessary stops. The staff member wipe down the elevator with disinfectant cleanser after the resident disembarks and before putting the elevator back in service.
- During the self-quarantine period
- As soon as possible after the resident has reached their apartment, the Executive Director/Administrator, service coordinator or other appropriate staff member must be in contact with the resident, via phone to review the Wesley Woods guidelines for quarantine and to ensure that the resident fully understands them.These guidelines include:
- Visitors will be allowed only to deliver food/supplies outside their apartment door.
- There should be no physical contact with any delivery person, neighbor, family member, etc. The resident should not open the door to speak with any person but it they do, the affected resident must wear a surgical mask at all times and stand no less than 4 feet away.
- Use of the laundry room is not permitted during the quarantine period.
- Use of the trash room is not permitted during the quarantine period. Wesley Woods will provide large garbage bags with which to hold garbage in the apartment. Wesley Woods staff will notify the resident via phone when the garbage bags have been placed outside their door. Once the quarantine is completed, the resident will contact the front desk to have a staff member come collect the trash. Staff members collecting the trash will utilize standard infection control procedures to re-bag the trash and dispose of
- Housekeeping services (if any are provided) will be suspended until the quarantine is over. Once the quarantine is complete, the resident will sanitize the apartment prior to any visitors or staff entering.
- If the resident must leave their apartment for any reason, i.e. medical appointment or emergency, they must first notify the front desk, who will make arrangements for the elevator to be cleared of all other passengers and then using the express feature, staff will collect the resident and deliver them to the exiting floor. The elevator will be wiped down with a disinfectant cleanser before being returned to service.
- No apartment inspections or minor maintenance issues will be repaired during the self-quarantine period.Any emergency required maintenance will be managed using the Wesley Woods standard infection control policy.
- Wesley Woods staff will be assigned to check in daily with the resident via phone during this period to maintain communication and updates as necessary.
- The resident must follow any instructions provided to them by government officials or their physician, including taking their temperature regularly and recording the results.
Additional Preparatory Measures Being Taken
- We are conducting infection control in-services for residents and staff.
- Additional sanitizing protocols are being put in place for elevator buttons, door handles in common areas and other common-area surfaces.
- We are stocking up on additional food and supplies to prepare for disruptions in supply chains.
- We are creating staffing plans for possible shortages due to callouts.
Please visit this webpage for the most up-to-date information on Wesley Woods response to the coronavirus. Or visit the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Lauri Ann Brooks, firstname.lastname@example.org or 404.728.6210.