COVID-19 Update: June 18, 2020

A case of suspected COVID-19 infection was identified on our campus yesterday evening, June 17. The Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph County Health Department contacted us to let us know that one test result received through the testing we recently completed in collaboration with the National Guard, as part of the statewide COVID-19 testing initiative, was inconclusive. They explained that they recommend treating inconclusive test results as positive while we re-test for confirmation.
 
We know you will be worried about the spread of this virus, for yourself and your loved ones.  Ensuring residents are cared for in a safe and healthy environment is our first priority. We are also committed to keeping you informed regarding our actions to protect residents and employees alike.
 
At this point, we have one staff member who has received an inconclusive test result and we are treating as if they are positive while we re-test. This employee has remained without symptoms and has been asked to self-isolate at home while they recover. We continue to have no residents displaying symptoms of COVID-19 infection and we will continue to closely screen residents and staff for signs and symptoms. 
 
As you may know, part of the process to stem this pandemic, is to have an early warning, by testing people who are not yet showing symptoms of this virus. Following the guidance of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and the CDC, we have initiated re-testing of all residents and staff today, June 18. We expect results within 3-4 days and will report results when they are received.
 

Infection prevention procedures in place

We are working closely with our local health department and are following the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Our current practices were reviewed by the Health Department and found in compliance with these guidelines. We will continue to provide updated information as the situation evolves.
 

What is happening now?

To protect our vulnerable residents, we continue the following aggressive actions to reduce the risk of COVID-19 in our residents and staff:
 
  • We are limiting resident activities within the facility. Group activities and group gatherings remain suspended. In their place, residents are receiving personalized in-room visits and enjoying other socially distanced activities.
  • Frequent environmental disinfection work, especially focused on sanitation of hard and often-touched surfaces. Our infection prevention team continues providing frequent education and guidance to all staff and residents. In an extra effort to keep our residents and employees safe during the COVID-19 Pandemic, the entire community was cleaned with the Biomist Sanitizing System. This system is an, FDA approved, alcohol-based solution that kills germs on contact. All common areas, resident rooms, furniture, and medical equipment were treated.
  • Visitation remains restricted except for specific situations, such as end of life. We are following guidance from the CDC as a necessary action to protect the health of our residents. Those who are permitted to enter the building will be required to limit their visit to a designated area within the building, wear a facemask, and frequently clean their hands.
  • We are monitoring health care personnel and residents for symptoms. Residents, employees, and critical health care staff continue to be screened multiple times daily for fever and other signs of illness. Our goal is to quickly identify ill residents and implement additional infection prevention activities. If ill residents are identified, they will be isolated in their rooms, monitored closely, and asked to wear a mask while we obtain testing. If ill employees are identified, they are asked to isolate at home and obtain testing, following the health department and CDC guidelines. As testing capability has increased in Michigan, it has become much easier for our staff to be allowed to get tested.
  • We have also implemented universal facemask use for all who enter the facility. Employees and any other individuals who enter the facility are wearing face masks the entire time they are in the facility. We encourage our residents to also wear face mask if they leave their rooms, in addition to frequent hand hygiene and social distancing.

Isolation protocols for those with symptoms

We have established isolation protocols for residents who show symptoms that would suggest COVID-19. Those residents with signs for this disease are tested and even after a negative test result is received, the resident remains isolated until symptom-free.
 

What you can expect through the near future

Our leadership and staff and the Health Department will continue to work diligently together to ensure that effective infection prevention measures are implemented and maintained. We will also ensure that our staff supplies are well-stocked with personal protective equipment (PPE). We are staying up to date with the CDC recommendations as they may continue to change.
 
We are here to ensure the best possible quality of life for those we serve. We know how important it is to remain connected with each other and to express love. Feel free to contact us, by phone or email, to schedule video chats or phone calls between loved ones.