The perspective of a Medical Director on COVID-19 in Senior Living Communities
Are you prepared for ‘What If?’
At Sagely, we anticipate that Covid-19 will make its way into some of the Senior living communities we serve, and we want to help you be prepared.
We realize that communities around the Nation have been on alert and instituted policies and practices to protect their guests against Covid-19. We celebrate these efforts that have surely had an impact on the spread of the virus.
This article is aimed at providing suggestions on ways you may want to increase your preparedness efforts if the virus makes its way to your community.
Sagely is fortunate to have a Medical Director, Dr. Warren Wong, who can provide our team and the communities we serve with a unique perspective. Dr. Wong is a Clinical Professor in Geriatric Medicine.
Questions for Senior Living Leadership:
How will you respond if a community guest tests positive for COVID-19?
Your community is built on Trust. If a guest comes down with Covid-19, your guests and their families will become alarmed. Earn their trust with planning, communication, and effective implementation.
Will you be able to identify Covid-19 promptly?
In some of the Nation’s hardest hit communities, recognition of Covid-19 was delayed with deadly results. All staff should be aware of the signs and symptoms of Covid-19.
Consider regular monitoring of temperature in all guests and staff. Remember that Covid-19 can occur without a fever initially. Have a policy in place to separate all guests with flu-like symptoms.
Testing for Covid-19:
There will be regional variation in the availability of Covid-19 testing. Many areas have established a Covid-19 hotline. Find out if policies have been established for testing of your guests. It is likely that high priority is given to guests who are in a nursing facility. Rapid results are important. Find out where the testing is done. Transportation may need to be arranged.
Will a guest who tests positive for Covid-19 be hospitalized?
There is likely to be regional variation, but communities must be prepared for the possibility of caring for guests with mild Covid-19 infections. These residents must be kept in isolation. Few staff should be involved, and these staff should be especially well-trained in avoiding transmission of Covid-19.
Do you have the equipment, supplies and readiness plan for environmental cleaning?
It’s possible for a variety of reasons that staffing levels will fall. In Kirkland, Covid-19 spread rapidly to various nursing facilities.
Do any of your staff work in multiple sites? Do you have a plan to communicate this information with local health officials?
Remember that Covid-19 can be spread by asymptomatic carriers.
Any confirmed cases should be communicated quickly and transparently.
Do you have a communications plan? Who has access to it? Do more people need training or access to the plan?
Personal protective equipment (PPE):
Be aware of your supply and availability of PPE. Use your supplies wisely.
Be prepared with plenty of hydration products.
Encourage frequent and thorough hand and face washing with soap and water.The virus has a fat membrane which is dissolved in soap, thus killing the virus.
Anxiety levels will be high for both guests and staff. Have a plan in place. All work that can be done remotely should be done remotely.
Clinical leadership is vital.
If you have a medical director, have that medical director actively involved.
Senior Living Communities must be prepared for the presence of Covid-19. We urge you to actively implement these practices if you have not already. Sagely is committed to providing as much support as possible.