April 24, 2020
Dear Agemark Family Member,
We continue to diligently follow the recommended practices for preventing exposure to COVID-19. One of the most recent recommendations from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) addresses how we should communicate with you if we should experience COVID-19 within our building. Per these recommendations, we will notify you within 12 hours if testing confirms a positive case of COVID-19 for a resident or staff member.
In addition, it is recommended that we notify you if three or more residents or staff exhibit new respiratory symptoms within 72 hours of each other. If either of these situations should occur, we will notify the state or local health department and respond as directed.
Lastly, we will also provide you with a weekly update about what we are doing to prevent or reduce the risk of transmission of the virus within our building. This recommendation simply formalizes the communication process we already follow, and we have updated our Infection Containment Policies accordingly.
As of today, there have been four confirmed cases of COVID-19 in two of our 20 Communities in the U.S., all of them staff. In each case, families were notified well within the 12-hour time frame and we were able to successfully prevent any further transmission. Thankfully, no residents in any of our locations have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
Our owners have been very involved and committed to protecting our residents and staff throughout this challenging time. One of their priorities has been to secure a way to provide coronavirus testing. As of this week, we are pleased to announce that we are now able to test staff and residents regardless of whether they display symptoms of COVID-19. Even better, we can administer the test without having to leave the building. This tool will also enable us to better screen new residents prior to moving into our building.
While we are excited about this ability, we will use it cautiously and keep in mind that a negative test today is only a snapshot in time. Through testing, our goal is to identify and quickly isolate those with positive results. Testing will be conducted first in Communities located in an area with a large number of positive COVID-19 cases. Please note that if we think your loved one should be tested, we will ask for your permission well in advance. Agemark Senior Living will also cover any out-of-pocket expenses related to these tests.
This is a time of great uncertainty in our nation, and the changes we have made to ensure the health of our residents and staff may have added to your stress. With the onset of nicer weather, we are currently working to develop a safe way to facilitate limited fresh air visits for families in the outdoor spaces of our Communities. More information about this possibility is forthcoming.
Unless the situation changes, current precautions will remain in effect until 5/3/20. Thanks again for your trust and support. Please reach out to the director of your Community if you have any questions or concerns.
Martin Hug, COO, Agemark
Terri Jo Goldsmith RN-BC, CRRN, CDP; Corporate Nurse, Agemark