While the public at large must take advanced precautions to avoid contracting COVID-19; seniors are by far the most at-risk group to acquire, become very ill and to die from the disease.
The outbreak in Washington State erupted when 35 people at a nursing home facility in Kirkland were infected in February.
Immediately, it became clear that nursing homes and assisted living facilities required advanced measures to stop the disease and to save lives.
In early March, Oregon’s Interim Director for Aging and Disabilities, Mike McCormick took action to prevent outbreaks from occurring in Oregon’s aging facilities. Mr. McCormick cancelled monitoring of nursing homes and assisted living facilities and moved quickly to institute a rapid-response team should any residents or staff of assisted living facilities test positive for COVID-19.
Elderly at high risk of COVID-19, care homes take extra precautions
Marj Sharp is the Director at Haven House Retirement Center in Fossil and was on board with advanced precautions in late February. “We went to no visitors and went on quarantine for 8 or 9 days when this first started in early March,” Mrs. Sharp said.
Initially, Mrs. Sharp got some push back but as infection rates and hospitalizations grew around the country, the staff and residents at Haven House knew that the precautions were necessary.
Haven House quickly stopped visitors from coming to the facility. Staff were asked if they had any flu-like symptoms and had their temperatures taken before starting each shift.
Haven House was able to acquire additional N95 masks from the Wheeler County Emergency Management Coordinator, Matt Davis.
While Mrs. Sharp wants to provide the most enriching environment for residents as possible, the primary concern at this time is safety. “We have a lot of folks visiting through the window. Family members are using the phone and calling more often,” she said.
At Summit Springs Village in Condon, Jonna Rattray came out of retirement when residents needed her most. Without a Director for several months, Ms. Rattray helped to keep things moving and then quickly adjusted when news of the COVID-19 outbreak surfaced in the news.
On April 6, Summit Springs Village welcomed their new Administrator, Hanna Bass.
Summit Springs has had a policy of no visitors except for healthcare workers for several weeks. “All staff are screened-in,” says Ms. Bass who has several years of experience in assisted living facilities. “Four times a day our staff are disinfecting,” high touch areas and the wider facility said Ms. Bass.
Residents are also encouraged not to eat communally in the dining room and there are no outside activities or larger group gatherings at this time.
Summit Springs Village appreciates the help that the community has given in these difficult times. Masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) are being made by the Helping Hands group that organized on Facebook.
At this time, residents at Haven House and Summit Springs cannot have visitors inside of the facilities. However, a visit through the window or a call on the phone could help to brighten the day of a senior in Fossil or Condon. Consider picking up the phone or making a visit through the window. Also, if you see a staff person of these facilities, thank them for the work they are doing. They do not get the recognition that they deserve.