July 10, 2020
The New York State Department of Health (DOH) today issued guidance to nursing homes regarding visitation that has been restricted since March 13, 2020. This directive details specific criteria nursing homes must follow for reducing such restrictions, while mitigating the risk of resurgence of COVID-19.
The DOH criteria is extensive. There are 17 bullet points in their notice, some with as many as 11 sub-bullets. It requires screening and reporting protocols, staffing requirements and visitor limitations, among other points.
We understand families and residents want to see each other again as soon as possible. We, too, want to loosen the restrictions as soon as possible. We are working on putting together all the points required by the DOH directive and will roll it out as soon as we can. However, due to the nature of the directive and its many requirements it will take time. Resident safety is our priority. Please bear with us and we will keep you posted.
Thank you for your understanding and continued patience.
In an effort to test all residents of skilled nursing facilities across the state for COVID-19, the state Department of Health has reached out to Northwoods and offered to test all residents free of charge. This is not the result of concern that an outbreak has occurred at our facility at this time. It is part of the Department of Health’s statewide plan to test all residents at all facilities.
Testing is scheduled for Thursday May 28th, 2020 at our facility. The DOH has indicated that they do not require you to provide consent to conduct the test, however, as with all testing and treatment, you may choose to not have it done. It is our recommendation that you allow the DOH to conduct the test and not refuse.
If you have any question please don’t hesitate to reach out.
I want to start this letter, first and foremost, by saying I hope you and your families are well and managing as best you can through this unprecedented crisis. And also to say thank you. Thank you for being on the front lines protecting our residents not only these past few weeks, but always.
While it appears that new cases of COVID-19 infection have plateaued in the state and we are fortunate thus far to have prevented the introduction of the virus to our facility, we know that we cannot let our guard down. Our diligence in infection control practices, including hand washing and social distancing, must continue. This is especially true for us, health care workers who care for the most vulnerable members of our community. We cannot let the fatigue of our efforts weaken our resolve to prevent the virus’s spread.
As a company, we are doing all we can to ensure you – our employees – are safe. In the past weeks we have spent many thousands of dollars purchasing PPE equipment. This includes gowns, gloves, N95 and surgical masks, and other equipment to ensure your safety and the safety of our residents. We also devoted time and resources to ensure our staff are trained on the proper use of the equipment. Our cleaning chemicals were reviewed to ensure they meet the standards for infection control and our housekeeping staff members are regularly disinfecting. And in the event a resident becomes ill we are prepared to isolate and treat that resident while protecting the safety of the other residents and staff.
As employees, you are delivering care with compassion like never before. Our residents, many suffering from the confusion of dementia, are without visitors for weeks, kept at a distance from their friends, and surrounded by masked faces. They need us now more than ever. Loneliness and depression are kept at bay by you, their dedicated caregivers. Nurses and aides, housekeeping and maintenance personnel, activities staff, cooks and aides, all have demonstrated teamwork and a willingness to do anything it takes to ensure our residents’ care needs are met. And that is truly inspiring.
We look forward to the day this pandemic is deemed over. But until that time, please stay safe and keep up your wonderful work.
To help stop the spread of Covid-19 that impacts nursing home residents across the nation, the Governor has released an executive order that all nursing home staff in New York State must be tested for Covid-19. The regulation requires this testing be done at least once per week, but not more than twice, depending on the employee’s work schedule.
The plan developed by the Administrator and submitted to the Department of Health requires the testing to begin no later than Wednesday May 20th. The law also requires that any positive test result is to be reported to the Department of Health by 5:00 pm of the day following receipt of such test result. Employees who had in the past a positive diagnostic test for COVID-19 or a positive serologic test for IgG against SARS-CoV-2 (antibodies) are exempt from further testing, upon providing documentation of these results to the facility.
We are developing procedures to test at the facility at no cost to employees.
It has been several weeks since our last post to the website, although we have had consistent communication with resident families during this time via telephone and other means.
We are all aware of the ongoing pandemic affecting not only our region, but the entire world. We remain committed to keeping our residents as safe as we can by following all the guidance and recommendations issued by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Some of the steps we continue to take to prevent the introduction of COVID-19 within our facility includes:
- – Suspension of all visitation and non-essential personnel to our facility
- – Screening of all employees and essential personnel every time they enter the facility
- – Employees always wear a face mask in resident areas
- – Regular screening of residents for symptoms of infection
- – Continuous disinfection of surfaces and resident areas
- – Regular re-education of our staff on infection control practices
- – Replenishing stock of PPE including masks, gloves and gowns.
Thankfully, to date we have no cases of COVID-19 at Northwoods. In the event a potential case is identified in the future, the resident will be immediately isolated and notification to NYSDOH will be made, in accordance with NYSDOH and CDC guidance.
We are taking all reasonable steps to keep everyone safe. But we are also fully aware that despite our best efforts no system is 100% perfect. We are on high alert and remain prepared.
Communication options via electronic means remain available and are already utilized by families regularly. Please continue to reach out to your loved one and with our staff. We’ll do all we can to ensure you remain connected.
To our families and friends, we are humbled by the trust you place in us to care for your loved one and we take our responsibilities seriously. Please stay well.
It has been an extraordinary few weeks as our world faces historic challenges with the growing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Amid the stress and uncertainty, it’s never been more critical to stay connected with one another, even as we practice social distancing to keep each other healthy and safe. We remain dedicated to keeping you informed about the actions Northwoods is taking for you during this uncertain time.
At Northwoods, we are committed to:
* Prioritizing the safety of our residents. We recognize that our population of residents is the most susceptible to the negative effects of the COVID-19 virus, so we’re doing everything we can to ensure they remain safe. We’ve completely closed our doors to visitors and non-essential staff to help reduce the chances the virus is brought in. Our infection control committee is reviewing all our procedures to ensure our employees are washing their hands constantly and that our cleaning schedule and technique is effective. All staff are screened for illness every shift and staff members wear a mask when near our residents. We’re ensuring high-traffic surface areas are disinfected using EPA-registered disinfectants. And we’re in constant touch with, and following all the guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH).
* Ensuring our entire staff of dedicated employees is safe and appreciated. Our incredible team of dedicated professionals understand their important mission caring for our residents and are doing everything in their power to be there despite the great personal challenges. Northwoods is providing them with the equipment they need as recommended by the CDC and NYSDOH. These include gloves, masks and gowns to help them stay safe while caring for your loved one. While many people are able to work from home during this crisis, our employees are hard at work at the facility ensuring everyone is cared for to the best of their abilities. We recognize and applaud them for this sacrifice and encourage you to do the same. Please take a moment to compliment them on our Facebook page or make a quick phone call to express your appreciation. These small gestures go a long way!
* Maintaining open communication with our families. Our residents and employees have no better support than the families who put their trust in us. And we’re committed to maintaining open communication with them at all times so they understand the challenges facing our community and what we’re doing to overcome them. We are doing our best to send regular communication to our families via mail and telephone calls, but mostly using our social media platform to ensure timely and effective communications. We’ve ramped up our messages on our website and Facebook so families can see what we’re doing and when.
* Creating connections during these extraordinary times. In addition to closing our doors to visitors from the outside, social distancing requirements have reduced face-to-face time for our residents with their friends and contacts within our home. To that end we’ve set up Skype and Facetime capabilities so families can remain connected and we’re utilizing Facebook so our residents can maintain their friendships. We’ve established an email address ResidentMail@northwoodscenter.com so you can send messages, which we’ll deliver. And our activities department is implementing creative new ideas and projects so our residents continue to feel loved and connected with those around them and maintain their healthy mental and emotional well-being.
The Northwoods family is humbled by the trust you’ve placed in us to care for your loved one. We’re coming together to get through this difficult time by remaining true to our values of service, integrity, and excellence at all times. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate this challenge, and we hope everyone remains healthy and safe.
Although we remain on complete visitor restriction (except for certain case-by-case exceptions), our residents are doing well and are in good spirits.
As a reminder, we have Skype and FaceTime capabilities and are committed to safely connect you to the people who mean the most to you. We’ve also set up an email address to send email to our residents. Please send your messages to ResidentMail@northwoodscenter.com and write the resident name in the subject line. We’ll be sure to pass it along.
Our staff of nurses and aides, dietary, housekeeping, and administration are doing all they can and are following all CDC and NYSDOH guidance. Please also take some time and recognize our employees who are going above and beyond to ensure our residents remain well and in good spirits despite extraordinary challenges.
While we continue to restrict visitors to best protect our residents, we know that connecting with your loved one remains essential. Check out our Facebook page for frequent updates and pictures of our residents.
If you want to schedule a video chat, please feel free to contact our Activities Director, Melissa Casler at 315-497-0440. We have Skype and FaceTime capabilities and are committed to safely connect you to the people who mean the most to you. Thank you for your patience and understanding during this difficult time.
Our residents are thankfully doing well. We are in close contact with our local department of health and following all their guidance as well as guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Unfortunately, we continue to not allow any visitors currently or for the foreseeable future. Skype and Facetime calls are going on and our residents are in good spirits. Thank you to our families and our entire community for their continued patience and support. And much gratitude to our staff for their continued dedication during these very trying times.
The local school district announced closure of their schools beginning tomorrow, Monday. This will certainly place pressure on our workforce as many of our staff have children. We are offering childcare options in an effort to ensure our staff can come in and provide the care our residents need. We maintain an open line of communication with them and are working to ensure uninterrupted operations.
If you are a nurse, an aide, or any type of caregiver please reach out to us at (315) 497-0440.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has formally restricted visitation of all visitors and non-essential health care personnel, except for certain compassionate care situations. This restriction was voluntarily implemented by Northwoods on 3/12/2020 as a means of protecting the health of our residents.
If you feel you have a compassionate care situation please notify our staff. Decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis in consultation with our Infection Preventionist. We appreciate your patience and understanding.
VISITOR RESTRICTION NOTIFICATION. PLEASE READ THIS ENTIRE NOTICE:
As COVID-19 (Coronavirus) diagnoses continue to rise in the United States and around the world, Northwoods is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for our residents, employees, partners and the greater community.
At this time there are no cases of Coronavirus at our facility or in the county. However, our facility provides care for one of the most vulnerable populations for COVID-19 risk and, as such, we are taking extra precautions to reduce this risk to our residents.
Effective immediately, we are restricting all visitors to our facility. Certain exception will be made on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the facility’s administrator and infection preventionist. Additionally, only necessary vendors will be allowed to make deliveries and will be screened for symptoms of illness and other risk factors before allowed to enter.
We continue to closely monitor all Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) advisories.
We understand this is an inconvenience and may result in a delay seeing your loved one. We appreciate your patience and understanding.