GUIDELINES FOR VISITING OUR COMMUNITIES:
10/1/2020 and Until Further Notice
Our mission is to enhance the lives of our residents and their families by providing exceptional senior care with compassion, dignity and grace. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many challenges to our communities, but we haven’t lost sight of our mission and those at its very core. While many things have changed, our commitment to the health and well-being of our residents, families and staff is as strong as ever.The pandemic was, and continues to be, a rapidly changing situation with new information and guidance coming out almost every day. Our leadership monitors and follows directives from state and local departments of health, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We will continue to keep abreast of and compliant with new developments and guidelines in this ever-changing environment. Below is a summary of what our communities have done and will continue to do in order to protect those who placed their trust in us:
- Wingate is fortunate to have more than 10 infection preventionists throughout the organization. These are specially trained nurses who continuously monitor state and federal guidance, develop policies on infection control and provide ongoing education to our front line staff.
We expanded our mandatory training program to encompass Coronavirus while reinforcing best practices for infection control and the proper use of personal protective equipment.
- Our procurement team worked diligently to secure adequate supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as N-95 masks, gowns, gloves and surgical masks to ensure that all staff have appropriate protection. And, we reinforced training in ‘donning’ and ‘doffing’ – putting on and taking off – PPE in order to maximize staff safety.
- Staff is screened every shift for possible exposure to the virus and tested for the presence of the virus in accordance with applicable state guidelines.
Wingate has always supported testing as a means to identify and contain the virus. Our communities are in full compliance with county, state and federal initiatives to test residents of skilled nursing facilities and senior living environments for the COVID-19 virus.
- We monitor and assess all of our residents on every shift for signs or symptoms of the virus. Special units and designated rooms are used for residents suspected of having or diagnosed with COVID-19.
- We increased housekeeping and disinfection schedules. In addition, we invested in industrial ultraviolet (UV) germicidal irradiation lights. UV sterilization can kill over 99% of viruses, bacteria, and fungi on hard and soft surfaces in an extremely short amount of time.
- Our leadership rounds throughout our communities to observe that all housekeeping, hygiene, and infection control measures are carried out appropriately.
- Perhaps one of the most difficult steps we took was to close our communities to all non-essential visitors in compliance with state and federal guidance. We invested in tablets and other devices to allow for virtual visits and, when possible, coordinated ‘window visits’ between residents and families.
- Our communities have adopted innovative ways to keep our residents engaged and stimulated while maintaining social distancing requirements. Small group activities, in-room dining, pet therapy visits by window, games over the loudspeakers, and virtual visits all help prevent social isolation during these challenging times.
- To keep residents and families up to date, our administrators communicate by letter, email, or other means when there is a change in the building’s COVID-19 status. In addition, nursing leadership and medical staff contact families directly if there are any changes in their loved one’s condition.
While many things have changed over the last several months, ensuring the health and well-being of those in our care remains our priority. As a family-owned business for nearly three decades, we take great pride in our communities. Our leadership and staff are committed to the safety, health and wellness of our residents. Whether supporting individuals in an independent or assisted living environment, providing skilled nursing services that optimize recovery from illness or injury, or caring for those in our long-term care units, our team helps residents live peacefully and comfortably while ensuring their social and clinical needs are met.
- At Wingate, we know our caregivers are at the heart of our compassion and care. Our team members spend their days making a difference in other people’s lives – and we think that makes them all heroes to be appreciated, celebrated, and recognized! Please take a moment to recognize a staff member who shines through with kindness, inspires you or your loved one, and goes the extra mile to keep our residents safe and healthy.
There are many lessons to be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, this is not a situation with a defined end date. With no vaccine and uncertainties regarding immunity, we will move forward with a new normal. Face masks, social distancing, and hand hygiene are all part of our daily routine and will be for the indefinite future. Here are some of the things to expect when coming to a Wingate community as a resident or visitor:
- Because the incubation period for the virus is 2-14 days, new residents in our skilled nursing or long term care communities are quarantined for 14 days in private rooms on special units. The same guidance applies to residents who visit a hospital and then return to our community. Visitors will only be allowed inside the facility if it is medically necessary.
- New residents in our assisted living or independent living communities are asked to self-quarantine in their apartment for the first 14 days, as well.
As states begin their reopening phases, we will follow their guidance regarding visitation:
Massachusetts – While Massachusetts has eased visitation restrictions for senior living and skilled nursing facilities, each facility must submit a compliance plan to the Department of Public Health for review and approval prior to allowing social visits. Indoor and outdoor visitation is permitted in some communities. Please call your facility directly for a current update and visitation guidelines.
Rhode Island – Rhode Island has eased visitation restrictions for assisted living residences. RIDOH recognizes that visitor restrictions are difficult for both residents and families. Therefore, the goal is to begin to prepare for how visitation will be achieved in the future. Facilities that wish to allow visitation, must prepare a Visitation Plan for resuming visitation in a phased approach, in accordance with guidelines established by the RI DOH.
Facilities may only resume limited visitation once RIDOH announces that visitation may resume and after the facility has developed a written plan (policy) that addresses the specified requirements. Outdoor visitation is permitted in some communities. Please call your community directly for a current update and visitation guidelines.
Preventing social isolation for new skilled nursing residents
For their safety and the safety of other residents, all new residents in our skilled nursing facilities are separated from others in a private room for 14 days. Our team works very hard to ensure residents don’t feel socially isolated. Rehabilitation services are provided in the resident’s room and our staff rounds frequently for safety and wellness checks. Complimentary tv and phone services are provided and all meals are served in the resident’s room. Our interdisciplinary team includes social workers, psychologists and other mental health professionals who can be engaged to support the resident if needed. Virtual visits with family and friends are encouraged and every effort is made to keep our residents active, involved and connected with our team.
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Coronavirus (COVID-19) is an illness caused by a virus that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a new type of coronavirus with symptoms ranging from mild (or no symptoms) to severe illness. Individuals can become infected by coming into close contact (about 6 feet or two arm lengths) with a person who has COVID-19. You can become infected from respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks and you may also be able to get it by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, and then by touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.
Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus and may include:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your primary care provider for guidance.
Additional Federal and State Resources Regarding COVID-19:
- CDC: Click here to visit
- MA DPH: Click here to visit
- MA EOEA: Click here to visit
- RI DOH: Click here to visit
- NY DOH: Click here to visit