Dear Actors Fund Home Families and Friends,
As the COVID-10 pandemic continues to evolve, I’d like to share an update from the our team here at The Actors Fund Home.
As of last Friday, in following the updated recommendations of the CDC and New Jersey Department of Health, we now require all staff and any essential visitors to wear a surgical mask at all times throughout the facility.
As of today, no residents are positive for COVID-19, though a few residents have shown minor symptoms over the past week. The nursing team is closely monitoring these residents every few hours and taking vital signs and temperatures. As soon as they observe a change in a resident’s baseline, they deploy our COVID-19 safety protocols, including placing both the resident and roommate on full isolation. In addition, at that moment, both residents are swabbed and tested for COVID-19. The residents then remain on full isolation protocols until test results are received.
Currently, all of our testing has come back negative and in every case the resident improved and no further treatment has been needed. At present, we receive testing results in about four days, but as soon as next week our lab will be able to test in house and we should start receiving test results in about 24 hours. Please note that we cannot test all of our residents and staff, and unfortunately a family member cannot require it. Only residents exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms may be tested and this must be ordered by a physician.
A few staff members have been placed on 14 day quarantine due to exposures from other facilities or contact with a family member that that has tested positive. This is not uncommon and is a challenge currently faced by many health care facilities. The Home has a thorough screening process to ensure that any staff member with potential exposure leaves the facility immediately. This helps to eliminate possible exposure to your loved ones. Our facility follows the CDC and New Jersey Department of Health directives and staff with potential exposure are only allowed back in the facility after 14 days of quarantine or after 72 hours of being completely asymptomatic.
I know many of you have tried to get in contact with your loved ones on the phone and at times, after being unable to reach them, have called the main number and asked the concierge to find a nurse or other staff member to locate your loved one immediately and put them on the phone. Unfortunately, we are not able to provide immediate phone contact at this time due to the strain on the nursing department. We ask for your patience with our team as our priority is on resident care and taking care of their needs. I cannot have nursing staff breaking isolation protocols or stopping care for residents to help with phone calls. I have instructed the concierges not to transfer those calls to nursing but to instead take down your name and phone number, and to forward your requests to our social work staff who will get back in touch with you within 24 hours.
In addition, we have established a way for family members and friends to have contact with residents through FaceTime or Skype. If you are interested in setting up a session, please email Laura White at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also send your loved one an email to our general email at email@example.com.
For family members who have been following the news out of New Jersey, on Tuesday, March 31, Judith Persichilli, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health, issued a mandate that all post-acute and long term care facilities must take COVID-19 positive patients from hospitals. The Actors Fund Home is included in this directive.
The New Jersey Department of Health, in conjunction with the CDC, has issued updated guidelines for caring for positive COVID-19 patients. As such, The Actors Fund has enlisted the construction company that oversaw our expansion project to quickly prepare a safe environment for these patients. We have designated 13 beds and created an airlock on either side of the corridor. As staff enter the COVID-19 Unit, they will enter an airlock that will allow them to safely engage in full Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) from head to toe and will remain that way while in the unit. As they exit the unit they will remove all of their PPE in another airlock and safely disinfect and sanitize it. These airlocks are equipped with air scrubbers to clean the air as an extra level of caution above and beyond CDC or DOH guidelines. Please note that COVID-19 is not an airborne virus and precautions that The Actors Fund Home have instituted are an additional barrier and level of safety for the rest of the facility and your loved ones.
We have also assembled a team of staff who have volunteered to work on this unit. To compensate them, The Actors Fund will be offering them what we refer to as “hazard pay” and, for the duration of the pandemic, they will only be working in the COVID-19 Unit .
As a licensed facility in the State of New Jersey, The Actors Fund Home is required by the commissioner and governor to relieve the mounting pressure on hospitals in New Jersey by taking these additional patients. We will only be taking in patients that are either positive, or who are presumed positive but are medically stable and no longer require hospitalization. By designating a separate unit in the facility for their care, we are implementing the safest option for the entire facility overall, as we know that everyone in that unit will be treated under isolation and closely monitored. We are working with our Medical Director, Dr. Meyerowitz, very closely on this and we are ready to meet this new challenge.
Please rest assured that our residents continue to receive the best possible care from our team and, as always, the safety of our residents and staff remains our primary concern.
The Actors Fund Home