Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, officials with The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society have focused nearly all of their attention on COVID-19, since the novel virus targets the elderly.
Because there’s no cure, preventing exposure becomes crucial in limiting the spread.
Safety for residents and workers
“Eighty percent of the population has mild to no symptoms, making those individuals really high risk for transmitting it to others,” said Dr. Greg Johnson, chief medical officer for the Good Samaritan Society, in a Facebook Live Q&A on March 20.
In light of this, the visitor policy at all Good Samaritan Society locations has changed. The Society decided March 10 to temporarily restrict visitors in all locations, except for residents who are receiving end-of-life care.
“High traffic equals high risk is the nature of coronavirus, as we understand it today,” he said. “We’ve used the CDC and Medicare recommendations and have felt validated that we’re making the right choice here.”
Part of keeping residents safe is also keeping a close eye on the health of workers.
Employees are screened for exposure to contact and symptoms. If they display any COVID-19 symptoms, they are sent home immediately.
Staff is also given the proper equipment to avoid spreading the virus.
“We provide them with protective personal equipment, which is fairly typical, but there’s a lot of recommendation around it right now. Think masks, gloves, and gowns. While we don’t want to use those when it’s not necessary, we do have specific directive that we’re providing around when it’s appropriate to do that,” Johnson said.
Enough help on hand
One viewer was curious if Good Samaritan Society has enough workers to care for its residents.
Johnson says the rise of cases directly impacts their workforce.
“With the rise of illness, our normal work staff stays home as there are increased school closings. This puts people in difficult spots around child care.
“On the rare occasion we have an employee get coronavirus or influenza or anything else and they’re out of our employee pool for a while, that puts a stress on our workforce,” said Johnson.
Because of this possibility, additional hires have been made.
“We have hired, and pre-hired, in the hundreds. We’re feeling like we’ve taken some good steps toward adequacy around workforce,” he said.
Keeping spirits high
Johnson says the activities staff at Good Samaritan Society has done an incredible job in keeping morale of the residents high.
“We had a site doing video bingo. There was a recent purchase of iPads. Many of the facilities already have these, but trying to bolster that ability to provide for FaceTime, and really any other kind of virtual interaction.”
“We have a send-a-note campaign. It allows families to pick the facility where their loved one is, upload a note, or a picture. It’s been really fun just to see the outpouring. There’s the expected from family, grandkids, what I’m doing right now, all the way to updating people on the calving season and how that’s going. It’s been heart-warming.”
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