August 14, 2020
Dear Family and Friends,
In our world of ever-evolving guidance, the hot topic this week is the release of Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) guidance outlining criteria and recommendations on how long-term care settings could re-open to visitors and suggestions to protect the health of our residents and staff. MDH is allowing individual communities to make the final decision on re-opening to visitors, based on our unique situation.
Resuming visitation in our setting is a difficult decision because it will increase exposure to the virus and we know our residents are at higher risk of complications if exposed to COVID-19. Yet, we also know that the ongoing separation from family and friends and feelings of isolation can also have a negative impact on our residents. The threat of this devastating and deadly virus is still with us. Minnesota is experiencing an increase in the number of positive cases in areas across our state, which can pose a greater risk of exposure to both our residents and our staff.
The MDH guidance has specific criteria that we will evaluate to determine when we can safely re-open our setting to visitation. It also applies to when we may need to restrict visitation based on the status and risk of exposure to COVID-19 for our residents and staff. There are many criteria they have suggested; most notably, that our community needs to be free of positive staff and resident cases for 28 days as well as the 14-day case rate within our county. Please see our latest Testing Update 8-14-2020
In the coming week(s) we will be thoroughly reviewing this guidance and assessing our exposure status and COVID-19 response plan to create a timeline and plan for visitation. However, at this time, we do not meet criteria to resume visitation inside our building. We will re-evaluate this decision based on clinical factors each week and will keep you informed on the status of when we will resume visitation in our setting. This is difficult news to receive and we understand how hard it is being distanced from your loved one. Our Licensed Psychologist, Alyson VanAhn, addresses this as well as some free resources for you as family members in this message.
To clarify, this visitation guidance is separate and above and beyond the already in place Essential Caregiver Guidance. As you know, we are piloting this program in our Assisted Living to start because of their smaller size and absence of positive Covid-19 cases for almost three months now. Family members in Assisted Living also provide support with daily living activities and cares for their loved one. In the Care Center these supports are provided by our staff, so the need for Essential Caregivers is mostly related to emotional support which we feel is being met through the various ways we are presently accommodating social visits. We continue to offer outdoor visitation, window visits and visits through technology. We have seen the positive impact of the improved courtyard visits on our resident’s emotional health and hope you have as well!
We deeply appreciate the sacrifices you make to limit the impact of COVID-19 on our community and your patience as we prepare our setting to host safe visitation and other activities. Our entire team looks forward to seeing you as our families, friends and volunteers are the core fabric of what makes our community so special.
Thank you again for being partners with us in fighting the COVID-19 virus. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns.
Chantal Peterson, Administrator