Organizations reaffirm commitment to proactive communication, testing, transparency

Written by Chronicle Staff. Posted in Senior Living

Published on May 31, 2020 with No Comments

As long-term care facilities nationwide continue to feel the impact of COVID-19, the Health & Hospital Corporation of Marion County (HHC) and American Senior Communities (ASC) have remained focused on the organizations’ top priority – the health and safety of residents and employees.

“During this horrific pandemic, we remain focused on the health, safety and well-being of our residents, their families and our staff,” said HHC President and CEO Matthew Gutwein.

From the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, HHC and ASC have sought to be ahead of the curve, implementing safety and infection control procedures prior to guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH). HHC and ASC continue to go beyond CDC and ISDH recommendations for clinical care:

  • Testing 100 percent of all residents in facilities where there is reason to believe a resident or staff member has contracted the virus.
  • Testing 100 percent of residents in high-risk facilities where there are no known cases of the virus.
  • Restricting visitors at all facilities.
  • Retesting residents who were COVID-19 positive to ensure proper care.
  • Screening each resident for illness daily.
  • Screening and taking the temperature of all staff, clinical partners, vendors and all others as they enter our communities.
  • Requiring all residents to wear masks if they are able to tolerate it while outside of their room, and in their room when a staff member or visitor is present.

“Residents in nursing and assisted living facilities are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus,” said ASC CEO Donna Kelsey. “Until a vaccine is developed, the only way a person can avoid contracting the coronavirus is through social distancing and sheltering in place. However, residents in nursing facilities cannot engage in social distancing or shelter in place. Every day, by necessity, staff and other partners must come into a nursing facility to provide care to residents and to operate the facility.”

As additional testing became available, HHC and ASC began – and continue – to test 100 percent of residents in any facilities where there is reason to suspect a resident or staff member may be COVID-19 positive. HHC and ASC are testing 100 percent of residents in facilities located in high-risk regions, even those with no known COVID-19 contact. This includes Marion County, where 100 percent of their residents have been tested.

Long term care communities conducting extensive testing may report higher numbers of COVID-19 positive cases than other communities that do not prioritize testing or have access to tests.

HHC and ASC partner to operate 78 skilled nursing facilities and five assisted living facilities across Indiana.

To ensure daily, real-time communication, HHC and ASC have assigned a staff person at each facility to serve as the primary contact for residents and their designated representatives. This staff person is available to residents or their designated representatives who want to discuss any questions or concerns. Each facility has a secondary phone number as well, which serves as a customer service hotline in case a family member is unable to reach the facility’s primary contact.

Each resident, designated resident representative and staff member is informed daily of the total number of COVID-19 cases at the facility and the number of new cases in the last 72 hours. If applicable, the facility’s staff will also communicate if there have been three or more new cases of respiratory illness at the facility within the last 72 hours.

HHC and ASC also encourage residents, their designated representative and other family members to contact the local government-appointed Long Term Care (LTC) Ombudsman to ask questions, express concerns or share experiences.

“This pandemic has brought grief, loss and tremendous sadness to thousands of families across the country,” said Gutwein. “Residents of long-term care facilities have been the hardest hit, and we cannot express the level of devastation felt by each and every passing. We can, however, commit to doing everything in our power to protect as many people as possible, and that’s what we’re doing.”


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