POSTED July 21, 2020

1. How has COVID-19 changed senior care?

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic turned our collective attention on the needs of our elderly community.   More than ever, our communities understand how susceptible this population can be to illness and how important it is for all of us to look after their physical and emotional well-being.

2. What precautions is the facility taking when admitting new patients?

Before we admit a new patient, we confirm that the patient has been screened by the discharging hospital for any COVID-19 symptoms.  If the screening shows the patient may have symptoms, they will not be admitted to Oakland Heights until those are resolved.

After a patient is cleared and upon admission into our facility, they are placed in a designated area for 14 days for further observation as a precaution.  After the 14-day observation period and further confirmation of no infectious illness, new patients are moved out of the observation area into their full-time room.

3. What efforts are you taking to mitigate infection and control the disease?

We are strictly following all CDC and State and Local Public Health Department guidelines for infection control. Our ongoing efforts include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • We currently do not allow visitors. We only allow entry to essential medical personnel, which are mainly our staff members.
  • We conduct telemedicine doctor visits. If the issue is urgent, the doctor will come in person. In all other scenarios, video chat is sufficient for all health meetings.
  • Before any employee or other individual can enter the facility, they are screened for any symptoms that may be caused by an infection.  They are required to complete a questionnaire and have their temperature taken.
  • We require everyone in our facility to wear a mask at a minimum.
  • We reduce any patient exposure to the absolute minimum number of people. This includes restricting activities to prevent residents from congregating in large groups and assigning each patient caregivers who will exclusively provide them care for that day.

4. Are you implementing any strategies to extend or increase your supply of PPE?

Right now, our diligent preparation has put us in a good place with sufficient stockpiles of personal protective equipment (PPE). Nevertheless, we are continually adding to our equipment reserves and are grateful to accept donations from our community to help us maintain a high degree of readiness.  At the moment, we are very prepared.

5. How are you boosting staff morale during this difficult time?

We are fortunate to work with positive people, and our staff has great morale. We boost morale further through education and transparency. Our staff is aware of everything going on, and we address concerns or questions immediately to make sure our staff feels empowered by information. By giving them the latest information and training on CDC guidelines, we replace potential fear and uncertainty with knowledge and confidence, which in turn fosters strong and positive morale.

6. How are you using televisit technology to help families stay connected to their loved ones?

We have several tablets that allow platforms like FaceTime and Skype.  Any family member who wants to connect with their loved one in our facility can contact us and we are more than happy to schedule a video call. Our staff will help everyone get set up and ready for the call on our end and will do everything we can to help facilitate the call in a respectful way. This process has been very successful, and family members have expressed their appreciation for these opportunities to stay connected with loved ones.

7. Are you using digital entertainment as a distraction for residents during the pandemic? What activities have you implemented to keep residents busy and entertained?

Our activity department is still functioning with some modifications from previous practices. We have temporarily replaced group settings with one-on-one activities and will continue to do so until it is safe to resume in larger groups. We offer activities in the patients’ rooms daily and practice social distancing rules.  Many of our patients utilize phones, tablets, and Wi-Fi. Every room has its own television with DirecTV.

8. What advice would you give family members of residents during this time to help them cope with the new changes and visitor restrictions?

Do all you can to help your loved one feel supported and protected during these challenging and unprecedented times. We are fortunate not to have COVID-19 at Oakland Heights and are going to great lengths to mitigate against any introduction or spread of infectious illnesses. We encourage family members to do whatever they can to uplift and support their loved ones in our facility.

It’s important to remember that our patients are not here because of COVID-19; they are here for therapy. Thus, we don’t want the focus to be on COVID-19. We want our patients to get the most that they can out of our services by focusing on their physical, occupational, and speech therapy so we can help them maximize their recovery potential.