From the beginning of the pandemic, our top priorities have been the safety and wellbeing of residents and staff as well as compliance. As the COVID-19 crisis has evolved, we have kept pace with frequently changing regulations, updates to Shelter in Place orders across jurisdictions, and now the plans for a phased reopening of the economy that may vary by county. We want to take this opportunity to share with you the work that has been done on this effort to combat COVID-19.
We first want to thank the people at Elder Care Alliance who have been working to secure Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for all of our communities. This team developed an inventory and tracking system to help establish “burn rates” to ensure each community is well positioned with PPE supplies in the case of a surge.
While acquiring PPE may seem like a simple task, there are many challenging issues facing the team in this environment. Those include supply chain breakdowns, high demand, unscrupulous business practices and quality control issues. Due to their work we currently have the supplies necessary to handle our infection control protocols and ensure we have enough on hand should there be an outbreak. Although the work continues, a short list of their accomplishments includes securing:
- Tens of Thousands of face masks
- Tens of Thousands of disposable gloves
- Sufficient quantities of hand sanitizer
- Sufficient quantities of “wipes” for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces
- Shoe coverings
- Disposable gowns
- Face Shields
- Diagnostic Tools like thermometers and pulse oximeters to help in our screening efforts
As we mentioned in our last update, we made the decision to offer free and voluntary testing for all employees and residents in an effort to get a better understanding of the impact of the virus on theECA family. We also hope it helps provide much needed peace of mind. We would like to take this opportunity to share the results of that testing initiative to date. Please understand that we cannot compel anyone to take the test, but we are trying to provide everyone with the information necessary to make an informed decision to do so.
Over the past 3 weeks we have conducted over 400 Tests for COVID-19 across our communities. As of today we can report our testing has identified only 2 positive results. Of those results both were residents who were asymptomatic and had recently returned to their community after a hospital stay. Both residents were under isolation as per our infection control protocols. We also had one other resident test positive for the virus while at the hospital. They were asymptomatic and most likely exposed during that hospitalization. The entire staff supporting this community and all residents were tested following this notice. All results were negative. In each instance we notified all residents, staff and families about the test results as well as our commitment to care for the residents and control the spread. We also notified the proper responsible agencies to ensure we were acting in accordance with the current regulations.
Due to our infection control efforts which include isolation and screening, we believe we have been able to contain the virus to just those whose results came back positive. We realize these tests are only a snapshot in time, and every hour thereafter presents other opportunities for exposure. With that said, we continue to follow strict protocols to fight this virus.
We have to take a moment to lift up and celebrate our team members. They have faithfully shown up to work to deliver care and services with dignity, love and commitment. We actively look for ways in every community to support them and show our appreciation through bonus pay, meals, spirit days, and resident letters of gratitude as just a few examples. The work they do is sacred.
The Mercy Brown Bag Program, which feeds low income seniors two bags of groceries per month, has seen a significant increase in people applying for food. This program, which was providing groceries to over 5,000 older adults throughout Alameda County, has seen over a 30% increase in demand. The Brown Bag team has been working tirelessly to fulfill those requests while also insuring their volunteers are protected as they perform their heroic work.
In addition to the infection control, testing and prevention work our teams are doing each day we continue to address the holistic needs of our residents consistent with our mission. One example is a digital letter project where students and other individuals are sending letters and artwork to our residents. We have seen many fun and creative pieces arrive which have truly helped to lift the spirits of those involved. We share a few examples below.
There is more work to be done in the months ahead. As we continue to provide services to the residents throughout Elder Care Alliance, we are working on our Phased Reopening plans, additional testing options, continuing PPE sourcing and most importantly, how best to prepare for the year ahead. Our team is committed to fulfilling our mission to care for seniors – putting their wellbeing and dignity at the center of all we do.
If you are interested in helping with our efforts to fight this virus and the impact it has made on our lives, please reach out to our philanthropy team. They can be reached at the following links:
https://www.givingeca.org/ – COVID Rapid Response Campaign & Gifts of Gratitude
Thank you for your continued support. We hope you and those you care about are safe and secure.
Elder Care Alliance