The current Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak presents an uneasy challenge, especially for those of us who are close to the people most vulnerable. Questions are countless, yet important. Here are a few that are asked the most. We’ve provided answers based on what we currently know, and subject to change as new information is available:
What is PioneerCare doing to keep our loved ones safe?
For many weeks, PioneerCare staff have been watching this situation unfold. We’ve been consulting with Federal and State health authorities for guidance. Much has been learned from similar care settings that have experienced an outbreak, like the one in Washington state. By March 11, we implemented a policy on restricting visitors. We began screening residents, staff, and anyone who entered the building for symptoms and potential prior exposure to the virus. Two days later, we tightened that policy further and eliminated all group activities. By the middle of the following week, we put a resident dining policy into place and sent non-essential staff home to work. We continue to monitor for the latest recommendations from health officials.
How about visiting with our loved one outdoors?
As weather gets nicer, many are asking about visiting in-person outdoors on property. PioneerCare has recently evaluated its policy and continues to seek guidance from regulatory agencies on this issue. In-person social interactions are associated with increased risk of infection. For this reason, we have not yet determined the safest way to allow outdoor visits on property.
The current CDC, CMS and MDH guidance for all senior living facilities is to restrict all visitors and non-essential health care personnel, except for certain compassionate care situations, such as end-of-life situations. As of this moment, and out of an abundance of caution, we are not allowing outdoor visiting on property. It is our priority to get you the most current information and if our policy on outdoor visiting changes, residents, tenants and families will be notified.
Visits through closed windows are allowed and encouraged. We have posted room numbers on exterior windows so the correct rooms can be identified. In lieu of in-person visits, PioneerCare can offer other alternative means of communication through the use of technology. Please contact us by one of the links below to learn more about how that can be done.
These are stressful days and we too are looking forward to the day when this global pandemic is behind us – and to the day when our buildings are restored back to what they are meant to be, as gathering places for visitors and every day comings and goings. In the meantime, we are making a good faith effort to balance needs with safety. We are asking people to use an abundance of caution until the threat of this virus is past.
What if a resident has suspected or known COVID-19?
If a resident has known or suspected COVID-19, PioneerCare will follow protocol as indicated by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). PioneerCare staff will contact the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) immediately. Immediate infection prevention and control measures will be put into place. Symptoms may vary in severity. If symptoms are mild and do not require transfer to the hospital, the resident will be isolated to their room with the door closed. The resident will be served by staff who are specifically dedicated to their care. They will practice isolation/droplet/contact precautions including wearing of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). As long as the resident remains at PioneerCare, staff will assess and evaluate the resident’s condition for a minimum of 14 days for potential change or additional signs and symptoms.
How are visitors being screened?
PioneerCare is following the procedure recommended by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC). To open and view a graphic of the process, go here: Screening_Persons_Entering_Community_3-17-2020.
Is PioneerCare still admitting patients or residents?
Yes. It’s important to continue to adhere to our mission, especially during this time. We will admit any individuals we would normally admit. We are screening everyone entering the care center, including newly admitted patients or residents. Following guidelines from CMS, we’re dedicating rooms exclusively for those coming or returning from the hospital. This can serve as a step-down place where they remain for 14 days with no symptoms.
If I can’t visit my loved one, how can we keep in contact?
We’re deeply aware of the potential effects of social isolation and we’re working on creative solutions. Sensitive to varied abilities and personal preferences, what works for one person may not be the best solution for all. Currently, we recommend calling your loved one regularly, using our Email A Resident option, or contacting us for Virtual Visit options via Skype.
Can we meet a resident outside?
Moving your visit outside is not a practical option currently. As the situation changes, we will evaluate whether this can be done. If it can, we will let you know.
I heard residents can’t dine together now. Is that true?
Following CMS and CDC guidelines, we’ve implemented a dining policy that minimizes risk of infection. Some residents are choosing to dine in their rooms. Others are dining in shifts in household dining areas to allow for physical space between residents.
Our children have drawn and colored pictures to give to residents. May we bring them to PioneerCare?
Absolutely. Everyone wins with this activity. Our children have time and are looking for ways to make a difference. Older adults love connecting with children and knowing they’re thinking of them, even if it is indirectly. Such items may be left at our drop-off table just inside PioneerCare Center’s front entrance. You could also take a photo or scan the artwork and include it as an attachment with our Email A Resident option. We appreciate your creativity.
How about flowers? May we send flowers to a resident or tenant?
Yes, flowers always brighten a person’s day. If you’d like to send them to a specific resident, please indicate that as you normally would do. They should be delivered to the drop-off table inside the vestibule at PioneerCare Center’s front entrance. Call ahead to bring flowers or other items to any of our living and care settings, so we know you’re coming.
If I want to donate something else to help residents, what is needed?
Decks of playing cards, especially large print ones, and puzzles are ideal. You may also make a cash donation to PioneerCare Foundation and if you want it to go toward the fight against boredom and isolation, indicate “Resident Activity Fund” with your gift. We will use that fund to purchase such items as they are needed. We’ve also begun a fundraiser to combat social isolation of residents. Learn more here.
I’m interested in applying for a job. Are you still hiring?
Yes, we are still hiring and are working creatively get new people on board. Please check our Careers page and select the Current Openings link for details. Please follow our normal application process and we’ll contact you if there’s an appropriate position that fits you. You may also contact our Human Resources office by email for more information.
How long will this last?
No one knows for sure how long it will take for things return to normal. The most important thing is to slow the virus’s spread to protect healthcare workers and the most vulnerable by observing these facts presented by the Centers for Disease Control.
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