Hultquist Place to Begin Outdoor Visitation May 3

Hultquist Place will begin to offer outdoor visitation effective May 3, 2021.  Outdoor visits allow us to limit the traffic in the building, decreasing the chance of infection being introduced. Visiting in the open air limits the spread of infection also.

The visit stations are located around our circular driveway. Please park in the Hultquist place lot in front of our building and proceed to the front door to be screened for symptoms and to provide your contact information. There will be a staff member monitoring the visits.

The Front doors will be open from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm daily. The doors are for Resident use only except during visitation times when those scheduled may use the doors.

Packages need to continue to be delivered to the Nursing Home main entrance.  

At this time, no food or drinks are allowed during the visits. Rest rooms are not available for public use.

In the event of inclement weather, visits will be conducted in Resident rooms.

HP Visitations and Off Campus Travel

As we have mentioned in the past, we often receive guidance from CMS and the NYS Department of Health at the same time as the general public with regards to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and visitation to our campus. We recently received new guidance to follow and although much of what we have been doing will remain the same, there are some very important changes you need to be made aware of.

First, some items that remain unchanged include:

  • Visits will be monitored and it is encouraged that the number of visitors be limited and the visits themselves be timed.
  • Access by visitors to the common areas of the building is to be discouraged/limited.
  • All visitors must be screened and will be turned away if they have any COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Residents in isolation or observation and those with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 status, (regardless of vaccination status) should not have visitors outside of compassionate care or end-of-life situations as determined by their case manager.
  • Core principles of infection control must be followed including but not limited to hand washing or sanitizing, facial covering, and social distancing.
  • Outside visits are preferred and will begin as soon as the weather allows.

The NYS Department of Health wants to promote more freedoms for our residents so long as each facility continues to work to keep everyone safe. Due to the high rate of vaccination amongst the residents on our campus, we must adhere to the following:

  • Any occurrence of a positive staff member or resident will result in visitation being paused until the individual(s) are retested and results obtained. The occurrence of more positive results will result in a fourteen (14) day quarantine of the unit/facility as determined by results.
  • If a staff member tests positive, we will assess their position and the amount of direct time spent with residents.
    • If there is little-to-no direct time spent with residents, there will be no pause on resident related activities, dining, or in-person visitation.
    • If the staff member routinely delivers direct care to residents, the UNIT that person is assigned to will be quarantined for fourteen (14) days. Visitation will be paused during this time. Residents will be served meals in their rooms and activities will be held in the hallway or one-on-one. Beauty shop service will also be paused. Medical appointments (unless vital) will be rescheduled. Leaves of absence will extend quarantine beyond the fourteen (14) days is they choose to leave the building.
  • Routine testing of staff on a weekly basis will continue and we will use this to identify any trends that may cause us to pause our activities again.
  • Outside visits will be allowed at all times (weather permitting) despite precautions being taken inside the building.
  • Residents who are fully vaccinated may go out with family and friends without being subjected to a quarantine upon return as long as the unit they reside on is not in quarantine. Residents opting to go out overnight will be subject to the fourteen (14) day quarantine.
  • Residents who are fully vaccinated who choose to leave the building during a pause in visitation will be monitored for symptoms 2x per day fourteen (14) days.
  • Residents who are NOT vaccinated will be quarantined to their rooms for fourteen (14) days if they go out for social events with family and friends.

As stated before, this information is often difficult to digest and can change quickly! No matter how much of a pain they may be, they’re being enforced to protect our residents and staff from any further harm caused by COVID-19.

We’re honored to continue working through this material to be sure you and your loved ones can be together safely. Please remain vigilant in the community and be sure to follow COVID-19 prevention basics.

Symptomatic LHRC Residents Tested for COVID-19 – 68
LHRC Residents Tested for COVID-19 – ALL*
LHRC Residents Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 0
Former COVID-19 Positive LHRC Residents Recovered – 12
Symptomatic HP Residents Tested for COVID-19 – 36
HP Residents Tested for COVID-19 – ALL*
HP Residents Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 0
Former COVID-19 Positive HP Residents Recovered – 16
Employees Tested Weekly for COVID-19 (State Mandated) – ALL
LHRC Employees Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 1
Former COVID-19 Positive LHRC Employees Recovered – 29
HP Employees Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 1
Former COVID-19 Positive HP Employees Recovered – 22

Sincerely,

Tom Holt

President and CEO

LHRC Visitation Updates with Vaccinations

As we have mentioned in the past, we often receive guidance from CMS and the NYS Department of Health at the same time as the general public with regards to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and visitation to the Lutheran Home and Rehabilitation Center. We recently received new guidance to follow, some of which is a stark contrast to previous information given to us just a week or so ago, and we have been forced to adjust our visitation protocols on the fly while still allowing visits to occur. Though much of what we have been doing will remain the same, there are some very important changes you need to be made aware of that may have changed since your previous visit (if you’ve scheduled one) or previous letters home.

First, some items that remain unchanged include:

  • Visitors must be screened for COVID-19 symptoms or possible/known exposures prior to admission. Anyone exposed to or exhibiting symptoms will be denied entry or visitation with our residents.
  • Use of face coverings and hand sanitizer/hand washing is required.
  • Visitation is limited and available by appointment. Compassionate care visits are available by appointment when visitation is suspended with prior approval from Lutheran’s Ethics Committee. End-of-life visits remain available at all times.
  • Visitors and community members can still find our COVID-19 case numbers, previous communications, and other relevant information on our website and through our 24/7 COVID-19 hotline (found on the back of this letter)
  • COVID-19 testing of visitors, either prior to a visit at our facility or upon arrival, as well as COVID-19 vaccinations are not mandatory but are strongly encouraged to protect your loved ones, other residents, and the staff who care for them.
  • Anyone unable or unwilling to follow the guidelines and visitation policies set forth (which are subject to change with little to no notice) will be denied entry to our building for the safety and wellbeing of our residents and staff.

Second, the items that have changed (for your benefit and protection) with regards to visitation, contact, and exposure risk include:

  • Visitors are allowed to be in close contact with a resident, including touching and hugging, if the resident is fully vaccinated. Both residents and guests must wear a well-fitting face covering at all times, perform hand hygiene before and after the visit, and maintain a distance from other residents regardless of their familiarity.
  • Indoor Visitation is subject to a pause based on community and facility COVID-19 positivity rates. Outdoor visitation is not subject to the same restrictions and is preferred when weather permits. Outdoor visits can occur even if there are active COVID-19 infections in the facility and even if the resident is not vaccinated (either partly or fully) from COVID-19. Visits held outdoors with non-vaccinated residents must utilize face coverings, hand hygiene, and social distancing protocols.
  • If a visitor to LHRC discovers that they have tested positive for COVID-19, and their visit occurred within two (2) days before symptom onset or two (2) days before their sample was collected, they should notify the facility IMMEDIATELY. In this case, one of two things can happen:
  • The resident will be placed on a fourteen (14) day quarantine if PPE and hygiene protocols were used by their guest.
    • If little-to-no PPE or hygiene protocols were used, or if the visitor violated any of the visitation policies outlined before and during their visit, it will result in a facility-wide quarantine along with facility-wide testing (called “outbreak testing”) of all residents and staff.
  • In the event that facility-wide quarantine and outbreak testing is required in an identical or remotely similar situation, the facility can reopen after meeting the following criteria:
    • Nursing homes with a COVID-19 infection limited to a single area or unit may allow residents in the other unaffected units to have visitors. Indoor visitation can resume for the affected area or unit after one (1) round of facility-wide outbreak testing with zero new positive COVID-19 infections.
    • If the outbreak affects two (2) or more units, visitation is placed on hold for the entire facility while outbreak testing continues for at least fourteen (14) days. If there are zero new positive COVID-19 infections after that period, visitation will resume.
    • Indoor visitation (regardless of vaccination status) will not be permitted:
      • For unvaccinated residents if the county positivity rate is >10% AND <70% of residents in the facility are fully vaccinated.
      • For residents with a confirmed COVID-19 infection (vaccinated or unvaccinated) until they have met the criteria to discontinue precautions OR residents in quarantine (vaccinated or unvaccinated) until they meet the criteria for release of quarantine.
      • If subsequent rounds of outbreak testing identify one (1) or more additional COVID-19 infections in other units or areas of the facility, visitation should be suspended for all residents (vaccinated and unvaccinated) until the facility meets the criteria to discontinue outbreak testing.

As stated before, this information is often difficult to digest, but we have an obligation to share this information with you regardless. A full, detailed reopening plan is available on our website should you need to reference it or read it in its entirety. Thank you for being patient with us! We’re honored to continue working through this material to be sure you and your loved ones can be together safely.

Symptomatic LHRC Residents Tested for COVID-19 – 68
LHRC Residents Tested for COVID-19 – ALL*
LHRC Residents Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 0
Former COVID-19 Positive LHRC Residents Recovered – 12
Symptomatic HP Residents Tested for COVID-19 – 36
HP Residents Tested for COVID-19 – ALL*
HP Residents Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 0
Former COVID-19 Positive HP Residents Recovered – 16
Employees Tested Weekly for COVID-19 (State Mandated) – ALL
LHRC Employees Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 1
Former COVID-19 Positive LHRC Employees Recovered – 29
HP Employees Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 1
Former COVID-19 Positive HP Employees Recovered – 22

Sincerely,

Tom Holt President and CEO

COVID Year in Review

This week, we will pass the one year mark since we closed our doors to the public for the first time in our history. A year ago, we had no idea how long the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic would persist or how woefully unprepared we were as a nation to fight it. Though it is certainly no cause for celebration, we have to consider the bright spots where we can.

I’m extremely proud of the work our team has done, both on campus and in their personal lives, to keep you and your loved ones safe to the best of their abilities. Circumstances pushed us to learn new technologies, get creative with care delivery, and juggle a competing list of priorities in a time of “war” against an unseen enemy. Through it all, our healthcare heroes continued to overcome each obstacle put in their path.

Though we have avoided announcing this to the general public knowing it could change at any moment, our campus has had one of the lowest COVID-19 infection rates in all of western New York over the last year compared to similar senior care communities. It is too soon to forecast what the next couple months will look like, but ramped up vaccination programs, our county infection rate dropping, and state regulators connecting the dots between practicality and reality are finally leading us down the right path.

We expect (though we cannot guarantee) that we will be able to begin in-person visitation at the Lutheran Home and Rehabilitation Center and resume in-person visitation at the Hultquist Place Assisted Living Program this month. Our updated visitation policy is enclosed for your review and is also available on our website. You will need to read this document and follow all guidelines set forth to ensure you, your family, and others in our care are able to enjoy this experience to its fullest. A robo call will be sent to you to announce when visitation officially opens. The calls are much faster than our letters home. Also to piggyback off that, the hotline number on the reverse side of this letter is the best resource for you to access up-to-date information on the reopening status in both of our facilities.

LHRC and HP receive and must follow all federal guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and state guidance from the New York State Department of Health. We must follow them both. Unfortunately, misinformation continues to spread in the media each time new guidance is issued from either source, particularly on social media. We receive the information at the same time everyone else does which gives us little-to-no time to adjust our internal processes before it is being mass reported and our phones start ringing. Reporters and/or enthusiastic community members then scan and summarize this extremely complex information (often pages and pages worth of healthcare related data) so that it sounds good on Facebook, in a short newspaper article, or in a thirty-second televised newscast. These stories do not reflect the entire scope of our work and often do more harm than good.

Our administrators and care providers have to memorize all of this information, bring it to life within our walls, and hope the information does not change the next day or week, which is often the case. I can tell you from experience that this is no easy task during an average year, let alone during a global health crisis. Please know that we’re making every effort we can to get you through our doors ASAP.

Before I close this letter, I do want to be sure I share COVID-19 vaccine resources with you once more. As mentioned before, we’re heading down the right path but we are not to the finish line yet. Though our official on-campus clinics for residents and staff have ended, we’re still able to vaccinate new workers and new residents in batches as they come to us.

Please seek out accurate vaccine information. Ask your doctor or another health professional questions when you have them. If you’ve ever played the Telephone Game, you know that relying solely on word of mouth may not always be what we expect! Please make educated decisions for yourself and your family on whether or not the COVID-19 vaccine is right for you.

You can visit https://covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/ online for real-time data, information on the vaccines available in New York State, or click “Check Your Eligibility” to see if and when you will become eligible.

Thank you for your time and respect as our staff work through this new but exciting next few weeks. There will be hiccups along the way, but your patience and thoughtful recommendations will help us get better with each visit.

Symptomatic LHRC Residents Tested for COVID-19 – 68
LHRC Residents Tested for COVID-19 – ALL*
LHRC Residents Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 0
Former COVID-19 Positive LHRC Residents Recovered – 12
Symptomatic HP Residents Tested for COVID-19 – 60
HP Residents Tested for COVID-19 – ALL*
HP Residents Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 0
Former COVID-19 Positive HP Residents Recovered – 12
Employees Tested Weekly for COVID-19 (State Mandated) – ALL
LHRC Employees Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 0
Former COVID-19 Positive LHRC Employees Recovered – 29
HP Employees Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 0
Former COVID-19 Positive HP Employees Recovered – 13
*not counting resident or representative declinations.

For COVID-19 status updates on the Lutheran Campus, call our 24/7 hotline at any time:  716-720-9715

Sincerely,

Tom Holt
President and CEO

Advocacy Help: Urge Lawmakers to Prioritize Vaccines for ALL Senior Housing

As you may know, we’ve had access to vaccinations for both the Lutheran Home and Rehabilitation Center as well as the Hultquist Place Assisted Living Program. The Edgewood Communities, an independent senior living community on the same campus, was not included. Those residents must search for vaccine access on their own in the community.

Elderly New Yorkers living in senior housing are at high risk for COVID-19 and have not been appropriately prioritized by the State of New York or the Federal Government for COVID-19 vaccination. These seniors are often in their 80s, and many need assistance from outside caregivers with activities of daily living. An estimated 38% of all residents currently living in the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program could be considered “frail” or “near-frail” putting them at risk of severe implications from coronavirus.

Additionally, just as staff in other congregate living settings with vulnerable populations have been prioritized for vaccination, staff in independent senior housing should be prioritized. Failing to prioritize senior housing residents and staff for vaccination is likely to mean significant delays in these seniors accessing the vaccine and, sadly, more hospitalizations and deaths.

With the importance of these individuals being vaccinated in mind, senior housing providers should have the opportunity to work with the Department of Health and Regional Vaccination Networks to begin planning vaccination clinics that can occur on site. Facilitating vaccination clinics on the campuses of senior housing settings in which a large number of seniors live would allow the state to efficiently vaccinate large numbers of people in priority populations in one clinic.

To submit a letter to the NYS Department of Health Commissioner, Howard Zucker, in support of our residents, please copy and paste this email below and send it to howard.zucker@health.ny.gov

I am writing to express serious concerns about the failure to prioritize senior housing residents, one of New York’s most vulnerable populations, for COVID-19 vaccination. The seniors living in this housing are often in their 80s, and many need assistance from outside caregivers with activities of daily living. An estimated 38% of all residents currently living in the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program could be considered “frail” or “near-frail.” The age and “frailty” of these individuals put them at grave risk for severe illness from COVID-19, and I would therefore recommend their prioritization in future vaccination plans. Additionally, just as staff in other congregate living settings with vulnerable populations have been prioritized for vaccination, staff in independent senior housing should be prioritized. Failing to prioritize senior housing residents and staff for vaccination is likely to mean significant delays in these seniors accessing the vaccine and, sadly, more hospitalizations and deaths.

For other ways to advocate on our behalf, please click here.

Vaccination Update

The last few weeks have certainly had their ups and downs. Civil unrest at our nation’s Capitol, a new administration in the White House, our county currently sits just under 500 active cases and was over 800 cases of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) just a few days ago, vaccine administration is underway in the general population though hard to find due to a shortage, and much more. The New Year has been bumpy but we’re continuing forward. We have had some bright spots internally we’re happy to report.

We held our second of three vaccination clinics at the Lutheran Home and Rehabilitation Center as well as our first clinic in the Hultquist Place Assisted Living Program on Monday, January 18. In summary:

  • Residents and staff of the Lutheran Home and Rehabilitation Center who elected to receive the first Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on December 28 received their second (final) dose on this day. Another 40 of our nursing home staff and 15 of our nursing home residents received their first dose this day as well and will get their second dose on February 8. No adverse reactions or symptoms were reported from anyone receiving their first doses but mild symptoms popped up for a handful of individuals receiving their second dose, which was expected. Combining both nursing home clinics, 113 staff and 98 residents have been vaccinated.
  • Residents and staff of the Hultquist Place Assisted Living Program received their first dose on this day. 27 of our assisted living staff and 51 of our assisted living residents opted in. Their second and final clinic is also scheduled for February 8. A third clinic date is scheduled for March 1.
  • Residents of the Edgewood Communities are considered part of the general population since they live on their own without the need for hands-on care or services. These residents are now able to schedule vaccine appointments anywhere in the community.

Leading up to our second clinics, we had a couple calls from resident family members asking our clinicians for information about the vaccines. There are two recurring misconceptions that require some explanation. First, some people think that the COVID-19 vaccine contains a live strain of the virus like vaccines of the past – it does NOT. In fact, the COVID-19 vaccines do not contain any form of the virus itself. Instead they use Messenger RNA (mRNA) advancements to take advantage of how the cells in our body create the proteins needed to trigger an immune response and build immunity. mRNA does not alter your DNA; it merely encourages the body’s immune system to “turn on.”

The second misconception is that taking a vaccine means everything we do can go back to “normal” or how it was pre-COVID. When a person is fully vaccinated (by receiving both doses of their vaccine) their body is more likely to ward off the COVID-19 infection. However, you can still transmit the virus to others. This means that while a vaccinated person may have a personal sense of relief, it is still important to remember the COVID-19 basics to prevent others from contracting the virus you may be carrying but not sick with. Hand washing, sanitizing, mask wearing, and social distancing still have a place in this battle!

As our staff, residents, and community continue to get their vaccines, we remain closed to public visitation for the time being. In the meantime, remember that we continue to offer heated outdoor window visits, video calls, phone calls remain available to all of our residents and their family and friends. To schedule these with your loved ones, please use the following:

LHRC Units: (A1) 716-665-8164, (B1) 716-665-8115, (A2) 716-665-8165, and (B2) 716-665-8118

HP Front Desk: 716-720-9610

If you’re looking for another unique way to bring a smile to your loved one’s face, our on-campus Music Therapist, Elizabeth Dooher-Abplanalp, MM, MT-BC, has created a singing telegram program for Valentine’s Day. You can select a song from a pre-determined list (available on the Lutheran Jamestown Facebook page) to be performed live for the resident(s) of your choosing.

Last but certainly not least, I want to acknowledge and ask you to consider a moment of silence in memory of those who have lost their lives at the hands of COVID-19. On January 20, 2020, the United States had its first confirmed case. Since then, we’ve lost more than 400,000 Americans (50 from our own county) and the number will continue to climb for the foreseeable future. Over 16.5 million vaccines have been administered across the country to date, but the tipping point has not yet been reached. If you’re willing and able, please schedule an appointment to receive yours soon.

I’ve included a basic fact sheet on COVID-19 vaccines that may help explain it better than I possibly can, and by all means please visit the CDC.gov website to learn more if you have an interest. Don’t forget to wash your hands, sanitize, wear a mask, and socially distance when you can. Thank you for looking out for yourself and one another.

Symptomatic LHRC Residents Tested for COVID-19 – 60
LHRC Residents Tested for COVID-19 – ALL*
LHRC Residents Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 1
Former COVID-19 Positive LHRC Residents Recovered – 7
Symptomatic HP Residents Tested for COVID-19 – 43
HP Residents Tested for COVID-19 – ALL*
HP Residents Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 7
Former COVID-19 Positive HP Residents Recovered – 6
Employees Tested Weekly for COVID-19 (State Mandated) – ALL
LHRC Employees Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 1
Former COVID-19 Positive LHRC Employees Recovered – 25
HP Employees Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 0
Former COVID-19 Positive HP Employees Recovered – 12

Sincerely,

Tom Holt
President and CEO

New Year and Vaccine Update

It has been a very busy few weeks on the Lutheran Campus and greater Chautauqua community as a whole. The holiday season is now behind us. Although it gave us time to reflect and appreciate all that we have and maybe took for granted in the past, unfortunately it left a significant amount of positive Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in its wake.

As of this writing, Chautauqua County has just under 700 active cases of COVID-19 a few short days into the New Year. While this number and the immediate future may look grim, there is hope on the horizon as vaccines have already made their way to us and will be available to the public soon.

To briefly touch on that, all three levels of care and residency on our campus fall into different vaccination groups according to federal and state governments. As a summary:

  • Residents and staff of the Lutheran Home and Rehabilitation Center who elected to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine had their first clinic on December 28 with two others scheduled soon. No adverse reactions or symptoms were reported from anyone after the first doses.
  • Residents and staff of the Hultquist Place Assisted Living Program will receive their clinic dates and information next week (the week of January 11).
  • Residents of the Edgewood Communities are considered part of the general population since they live on their own without the need of hands-on care or services. These residents are able to get a vaccine when they’re made available to the general population.

86 residents and over 70 employees in the nursing home were vaccinated during the nursing home’s first clinic. Enthusiasm was high and everyone was excited to be part of history in the making! Though this does not mean we can open our doors to visitors immediately, it does mean we’re heading in the right direction. We expect updated visitation guidance for the nursing home and assisted living program to be released soon as vaccines become more widely available to us and the community. Until then, our team continues to address concerns as they arise as well as plan for the future when visitation restrictions may be lifted.

Speaking of addressing concerns, I want to make sure I give credit where it is due to our staff working around the clock on infection prevention measures. Like all other facilities across the state, the nursing home and assisted living program have had routine drop-ins during this pandemic by the NYS Department of Health to check our infection prevention protocols. I’m proud to say that in the most recent visits to both facilities, we passed with flying colors (as expected). Compared to some of the stories you read about micro clusters, outbreaks, and failed infection prevention measures at other facilities in the region, our successes in this area is the sole reason we’ve been able to identify, isolate, and correct COVID-19 infections as they arise.

I know that our employees’ hard work is not lost on you. We created an Employee Holiday Meal Fund through the Lutheran Foundation in November for resident families to provide “pick-me-up” meals and treats for our staff. You donated over $2,000 to this fund through the holidays as well as pre-packaged meal and snack items from area businesses. The gratitude you expressed through your donations, phone calls, and emails were greatly appreciated.

Although it isn’t the same, heated outdoor window visits, video calls, phone calls remain available to all of our residents and their family and friends. To schedule these with your loved ones, please use the following:

LHRC Units: (A1) 716-665-8164, (B1) 716-665-8115, (A2) 716-665-8165, and (B2) 716-665-8118
HP Front Desk: 716-720-9610

Thank you for bearing with us during all of this. We’re excited about the future and hope you will consider getting vaccinated to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community. We’ve included a brief FAQ about the COVID-19 vaccines for you to review. It is the same information we shared with our residents and staff.

Don’t forget to wash your hands, wear a mask, and socially distance when you can. Happy New Year from all of us at Lutheran. Here’s to a healthier and happier new year.

Symptomatic LHRC Residents Tested for COVID-19 – 60
LHRC Residents Tested for COVID-19 – ALL*
LHRC Residents Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 0
Former COVID-19 Positive LHRC Residents Recovered – 7

Symptomatic HP Residents Tested for COVID-19 – 30
HP Residents Tested for COVID-19 – ALL*
HP Residents Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 5
Former COVID-19 Positive HP Residents Recovered – 3

Employees Tested Weekly for COVID-19 (State Mandated) – ALL

LHRC Employees Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 6
Former COVID-19 Positive LHRC Employees Recovered – 17

HP Employees Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 6
Former COVID-19 Positive HP Employees Recovered – 7

Sincerely,

Tom Holt
President and CEO

Holiday Food Donations

As if our physical, social, and emotional struggles with the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) weren’t enough, we now have to face the impact this health crisis will have on the holiday season. Many of the traditions we’ve enjoyed with our residents and families over the years will have to be reimagined in 2020. This will require some patience, understanding, and an open mind on all of our part, especially as it relates to donations of food items.

Last week, NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo identified the top three areas where COVID-19 is spreading: bars, gyms, and people or items coming and going from private residences. New restrictions are currently being put into place all across the state based on this guidance.

For us, that means we must restrict our usual potluck-style food events, food donations, and related activities for the time being. This includes donations or deliveries of meals, desserts, candies, and other food items that have been prepared by resident families or community members for consumption by either staff and/or residents.

While you may have the best of intentions, we’ve seen how easily (and unknowingly) the COVID-19 virus can be spread to others. Even if food items are heated or chilled, contagions can still be spread via containers, wraps, utensils, and more. As an alternative, we recommend getting gifts or food items from local stores or restaurants for your loved ones or our staff where applicable. The difference between food items made at home versus a commercial kitchen or restaurant is that these businesses have COVID-19 safety protocols in place to help protect consumers from harm’s way. On the contrary, many of us have habits or routines we follow in the comfort of our own home (some we may not even be aware of) that can inadvertently spread contagions to others. The last thing we want is to see a good deed have such scary consequences! Though it hurts to do it, we must enforce this going forward or at least until COVID-19 cases in WNY and our own community begin to go back down.

In place of homemade cookies, consider getting cookies or donuts from a local bakery; in place of homemade soup or other entrees, consider getting soup or food specials from a local restaurant or grocery store. Sealed packages, bags, and containers work the best because the outside can be sanitized without affecting the quality of the products inside.

“When in doubt, give us a shout!” If you’re unsure whether or not it is OK to bring something in for your loved one, call their corresponding facility and/or unit to double-check first:

LHRC Units: (A1) 716-665-8164, (B1) 716-665-8115, (A2) 716-665-8165, and (B2) 716-665-8118
HP Front Desk: 716-720-9610

Lastly, we have received several calls lately by resident family members and community members asking if they can do something special for our healthcare heroes. Some aren’t sure what to buy or do. In light of this, we have created a special “Employee Holiday Food” donation fund on our website through the Lutheran Foundation. Donations made to this fund will be used to buy food and desserts for our staff during the holiday months.

To make a donation, just visit lutheran-jamestown.org and click “DONATE” at the top of the page. Donations can be made safely and securely online using a debit card, credit card, or PayPal account. You can designate which department or unit is to receive your donation and include a short note of encouragement if you’d like! Our staff are facing similar emotional challenges as many of you. Some have their own aging family members in the community they cannot visit, while others avoid as much social interaction in the community as they can. They do these things to keep our residents safe, so small tokens of appreciation go a long way to help boost their spirits and recognize them for the sacrifices they’re personally making.

If you had told me back in March that we would still be in this position come November, I would not have believed it. This emotionally draining life event is something our children and grandchildren will read about in history books and wonder how we ever managed to wrap our minds around it all, especially as it changes so rapidly. Regardless, we must move forward and work together as best we can to keep one another and our residents’ as safe as possible.

Please remember to wear your masks while out in public, wash or sanitize your hands when needed, maintain social distance in public as well as among friends, and consider the impact your holiday plans may have on those in attendance as well as others. Also, say a prayer for our staff and the work they continue to do; I’m proud of the work they’ve done and you should be too.

As a reminder, you can call our 24/7 COVID-19 hotline any time to check the current status of visitation at both of our facilities. Thank you for your understanding and help adhering to this ever changing world we live in.

Symptomatic LHRC Residents Tested for COVID-19 – 41
LHRC Residents Tested for COVID-19 – ALL*
LHRC Residents Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 0
Former COVID-19 Positive LHRC Residents Recovered – 2
Symptomatic HP Residents Tested for COVID-19 – 0
HP Residents Tested for COVID-19 – ALL*
HP Residents Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 0
Employees Tested Weekly for COVID-19 (State Mandated) – ALL
LHRC Employees Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 2
HP Employees Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 2
Former COVID-19 Positive Employees Recovered – 8

*not counting resident or representative declinations.

Sincerely,

Tom Holt
President and CEO

Micro Outbreaks and Visitation (HP)

Our understanding of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to evolve day-to-day as do the measures taken to avoid the threat at a local and state level. We’ve seen positivity rates surge across the country while New York State, a previous hotbed for COVID-19 infections and deaths, remains the lowest. We will always wonder what if when it comes to the closures, restrictions, and other implications we’ve had to endure, but this is a reality we must navigate and we do so with the best intentions: protecting our residents at the Hultquist Place Assisted Living Program, Lutheran Home and Rehabilitation Center, and the employees serving both.

Over the last week, several senior care facilities in our area very similar to ours have made local and regional headlines after announcing micro-outbreaks in their facilities. Some of these outbreaks (though not all) could have been avoided. The term “COVID Fatigue” is beginning to circle around the states that were earliest affected by COVID-19 and have been fighting it the longest, our state being one of them. COVID Fatigue refers to knowing what should be done to mitigate risks of the virus but ignoring or forgetting due to physical and mental exhaustion as well as general depression from the work itself. We want to make sure we reiterate our commitment to sanitization, checking then re-checking our work and protocols as it relates to resident care and staff health screenings, and to also remind you of our stricter-than-most admission requirements to both levels of care on our campus.

We learned through local media and the county health department that many of the residents from the local outbreak locations ended up hospitalized. This sparked some of our residents, families, and employees to ask whether or not we would admit anyone who is a) COVID-19 positive or b) who recovered from COVID-19. The answer is no, we will not be admitting any current or recently diagnosed COVID-19 residents. We are still open for general admissions in our assisted living program, nursing home, and rehabilitation program, but recent health history will be taken into account and strict guidelines must be met prior to admittance.

Aside from NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order forbidding nursing homes from accepting COVID-19 positive admissions into their facilities until they have tested negative, we have a commitment to our existing residents and families first. Admitting anyone who is COVID-19 positive or recently diagnosed with COVID-19 would push back or pause any in-person visitations happening in either of our buildings. This is not acceptable to us and we will not put our residents and families through any additional trouble or worry if we can help it.

As the cold weather slowly creeps in, we have reopened in-person visitation at the Hultquist Place Assisted Living Program and we have brought those visits indoors.

Visitation protocols for each facility can be found in the COVID-19 section HERE. Please remember that visitation protocols (when available) differ for each level of care and there are time-sensitive requirements that must be met before visiting the nursing home if you choose to do so.

Last but certainly not least, we wanted to share a comment with you that a resident family member sent our way recently in an email in regards to the issues we face, the care we provide, and the attention to detail we pay to everyone we serve:

“I just wanted to say thank you for everything your have done for my mother. Not being able to visit her has devastated our family more than I can even put into words, but of all the places she could be right now, I am glad she is at Lutheran. The ability to video chat with her, drop off care packages for her, hear her voice, and learn of the relationships she has been cultivating with your nursing staff means so much. From a sometimes disgruntled but profoundly grateful family, we say thank you.”

Our staff have continued to do amazing things within our building. Even when COVID-19 cases have emerged here, they are found and snuffed out immediately without any increased spread. As I’ve stated before, it is a testament to what can happen when you do things the right way the first time and every time.

Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the holiday season are right around the corner as is the snow. The temptation to gather with friends and family in confined, indoor spaces has never been higher. There are ways to celebrate with friends and family in a safe way that don’t endanger yourself or others. Please reconsider your plans this year, continue to wear your masks in public, social distance where you can, wash and sanitize your hands, and always be aware of your surroundings. Thank you for your patience and support.

Symptomatic LHRC Residents Tested for COVID-19 – 35
LHRC Residents Tested for COVID-19 – ALL*
LHRC Residents Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 0
Former COVID-19 Positive LHRC Residents Recovered – 2
Symptomatic HP Residents Tested for COVID-19 – 0
HP Residents Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 0
Employees Tested Weekly for COVID-19 (State Mandated) – ALL
LHRC Employees Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 0
HP Employees Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 0
Former COVID-19 Positive Employees Recovered – 8

*not counting resident or representative declinations.

Sincerely,

Tom Holt
President and CEO

Visitation Closures Explained

Since writing to you last week regarding a variety of hot button issues, we’ve received multiple calls or emails asking for clarification on visitation and who specifically makes the call of whether or not a facility can reopen. The assumption is that we (Lutheran) are deciding to stay closed which is not at all accurate. We want our families and residents to be together again safely. While regulations differ between the Lutheran Home and Rehabilitation Center compared to the Hultquist Place Assisted Living Program in regards to visitation during the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the following is a very broad overview of how these decisions are made, who makes them, and how you can help.

We are required to follow guidelines given to us by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as well as the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH). While the federal guidelines remain somewhat relaxed due to differing levels of community based spread of COVID-19 in each state, our campus must follow our own state’s guidelines which tend to be stricter.

The strict nature of those guidelines is due to where we’ve been over the last eight months and what we have witnessed as an industry though maybe not specifically in our county. Who, what, when, and how certain places can open or close is generally all you hear or read about in the news, but the reasoning is often left out due to how complicated the information is to relay and explain. There is extensive data guiding those decisions behind the scenes which is based on science and simple math. When the numbers and data change on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis, it leads many people to believe that they are made up or deceitful. In reality, the numbers and data change frequently because we are still learning more and more about COVID-19 every day. The more we learn, the better we can adapt and plan ahead. The better we adapt and plan ahead, the sooner we can reopen to visitors.

The NYS DOH uses the most up-to-date data available to decide if and when we will reopen and it varies by facility. We then must enforce those decisions.

As the curve in our state went down, the requirements to reopen were reduced. We want that trend to continue. Please know that we are ready for visitation to begin in LHRC and to continue in HP. Our staff have moved mountains to keep our residents and themselves safe as best they can, but we can only control what happens within our own walls. You have undoubtedly read about outbreaks at other nearby facilities. Infections can be minimized or avoided by adhering to infection prevention basics like social distancing, handwashing, mask wearing, and more. We wholly believe that the infections we’ve had in our building did not spread or turn into clusters because of our dedication to cleanliness and sanitization as well as routine testing of our employees. Our success is a true testament to the hard, thoughtful work being done here despite the continued hidden, asymptomatic spread of this virus.

When infection control is done right and on time, you can manage the COVID-19 threat. When it comes to general advocacy and sharing of information, here are some other things you can do to help us and others:

First, participate in contact tracing when needed, take infection prevention seriously, use the NYS COVID-19 smartphone app to monitor your own health, and help keep healthcare workers safe in our community. Second, call your local and state elected officials to ask for and encourage them to make more financial resources and testing resources available to us and others. This will help us find positive infections sooner, get rid of them sooner, and start visitation sooner. Lastly, only share information with others that is from trusted sources on matters related to COVID-19 and visitation, particularly as it relates to our campus. Although your friends and favorite websites may seem knowledgeable, op-ed information and word of mouth can quickly become the telephone game, with information changing or skewing until it is no longer credible.

You should visit coronavirus.health.ny.gov or cdc.gov for the most reliable public health information on COVID-19. You can also find up-to-date information and helpful links at lutheran-jamestown.org or by calling our 24/7 hotline number below.

We will be able to bring you and your loved ones together again soon. Although inclement weather is on the horizon, we have protocols for socially distanced, indoor visitation built into our visitation plans. We can and will do anything we can to bring you all together within the guidelines given to us by our regulators. We need our community’s help to get there. Please stay warm, safe, and remain patient and we continue forward!

Symptomatic LHRC Residents Tested for COVID-19 – 31
LHRC Residents Tested for COVID-19 – ALL*
LHRC Residents Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 0
Former COVID-19 Positive LHRC Residents Recovered – 2
Symptomatic HP Residents Tested for COVID-19 – 0
HP Residents Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 0
Employees Tested Weekly for COVID-19 (State Mandated) – ALL
LHRC Employees Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 1
HP Employees Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 0
Former COVID-19 Positive Employees Recovered – 7

*not counting resident or representative declinations.

Sincerely,

Tom Holt
President and CEO