Dear Acts Residents and Employees:
As we turn the calendar to another month, we continue to be consumed by the logistics and challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, while also preparing for the annual hurricane season. We remain ready to address each challenge expeditiously and responsibly, with the support and assistance of the entire Acts family. We deeply thank our employees for their support and dedication to our mission and our residents, making personal sacrifices to faithfully serve our organization. We deeply thank our residents for your confidence, patience and partnership as we carefully and successfully navigate these unprecedented times. Over the years, when residents are asked what they love most about Acts, the responses always include – “the employees”. When employees are asked why they stay at Acts, the response is very consistent – “the residents”. This sense of family has never been more important, and we thank all of you for the continued love, support and appreciation that you extend to each other. It is said that family is the anchor that holds us through life’s storms. Our family is strong, resilient and ready to respond to every kind of storm, thanks to all of you.
It appears as we now enter August that continued vigilance and adjustments are necessary. Personal travel, sporting events, school openings, and countless other activities will continue to test the boundaries of this pandemic. At Acts, we recognize the burden the restrictions impose on everyone’s daily lives and we continue to make every effort possible to ensure our communities are safe and as comfortable and engaging as possible for our residents and employees under these extreme circumstances.
We are pleased to provide you with this week’s updates on Acts’ key COVID-19 activity.
Currently, amongst our 26 communities, we have 18 communities with no active resident cases. Across the other 8 communities, there is a total of 51 active residents. These residents continue to be primarily in our WillowBrooke Court skilled care centers, and many do not have any symptoms at all. In these communities where we do have residents testing positive, they are being closely monitored and cared for by our team of professional clinicians. Those few independent living residents who have tested positive, and do not require care in WillowBrooke Court, are required to self-isolate for 14 days in their living unit, with regular clinical review by our clinical teams.
As part of our preparation plans, in all of our WillowBrooke Court and OakBridge Terrace health care centers, we have made structural adjustments to create specific COVID-19 neighborhoods that allow us to reduce the potential for exposure to others. Also, as a reminder, new admissions into these levels of care by non-Acts residents (private pay) remains restricted, as we intentionally reduce the census to increase privacy (reducing the number of residents in semi-private rooms).
The number of active employee cases totals 97, with over 50% of them in our Southeast Region. Fortunately, this is slightly lower than the number of active employees as of last week. We are hopeful that this positive trend will continue, and we thank you for your assistance in achieving these milestones.
One of the major challenges of the virus, which we continue to experience, is that the vast majority of residents and employees who test positive for the virus have no signs or symptoms. As such, everyone is strongly encouraged to escalate their compliance with all established protocols – washing hands frequently and thoroughly, social distancing, traveling only for essential purposes, and wearing a mask when outside of your home. Please seek immediate medical attention if you do exhibit signs or symptoms, even if very mild. As we all continue to take personal responsibility we can lessen or eliminate exposures to ourselves and others.
We have been blessed to have established strong working relationships with a variety of labs that has allowed us to conduct repeated widespread testing for COVID-19 of all of our residents and employees in recent months. From this testing, we have learned a great deal, and with confidence, we can now adjust our protocols for future testing. Beginning in August, we plan to focus our widespread testing on communities where cases of the virus are significantly increasing in the local area. We will continue to ensure that testing is being done responsibly and will be adjusted whenever and wherever clinically indicated and/or required by regulations. In certain states, we are subject to regulatory testing of our WillowBrooke Court and OakBridge Terrace employees, which will certainly continue with the same degree of frequency.
Our initial shipment of rapid testing machines has been received, training has been conducted, and the machines are being routinely utilized to supplement our lab testing protocols. In the short time since their arrival, we have experienced the benefit of these machines and their ultimate capabilities. We continue to explore all in-house testing opportunities so that we may obtain the most efficient and accurate equipment available to us. With our in-house testing machines, we have control of the results and the turnaround time that is so vital to controlling the spread of the virus. While these machines are not appropriate or capable of mass testing, they do provide results within 15 minutes post swabbing and are an important component of our testing strategies for symptomatic individuals, new move-ins, those requiring post-travel tests, and other return to work testing needs.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is the status of procuring rapid testing machines?
To date, we have received 5 rapid testing machines that are strategically located in each of our operating regions. We have placed an order for a total of 26 machines (one for each community) and are awaiting delivery. The machines are a welcomed addition to our wellness clinics as they will provide our Nurse Practitioner’s increased capabilities in rapid testing for multiple viruses, including COVID-19, influenza and strep, much like those available in most primary care physician offices.
Can you expand the compassionate care visits to allow family and friends to visit inside of WBC?
There continues to be strict visitation restrictions imposed by state and/or federal regulations. We have developed the outdoor visitor zones to provide some level of visitation without violating any requirements of law. Fortunately, some states are developing phased visitation guidelines at this time that we are monitoring closely. In addition, we continue to support and provide opportunities for in-person compassionate visits, while being respectful of and in compliance with all applicable regulations. Please contact your Executive Director or Administrator to discuss your specific compassionate care visit requests.
Will you continue to have a grocery shopping program?
Numerous residents have expressed their appreciation for the grocery program. It is our expectation to continue the program throughout the pandemic and potentially beyond.
Will you continue to reduce restrictions while we see COVID-19 positive cases increase in our local area?
As you are aware, we initially developed a 3-phase approach to reopening Acts communities with very specific criteria. We have further refined the phasing to include a Phase 2.5. In this phase, we recognize the necessity to continue to open communities with additional caution before moving into the final phase (which assumes a vaccine is widely available and in use). Currently, no communities have entered Phase 2.5 and we are on hold in lifting any additional restrictions at this time given the recent surge in exposures across the country and with many states moving backwards in the re-opening plans. These modifications per state may require us to temporarily modify our protocols. By way of example, if a state closes indoor dining, our restaurants will be required to close, and we will offer take out and delivery only. We will also be required to implement any state changes in capacity limits. If a state reduces indoor dining from 50% capacity to 25% capacity, our dining venues will also reduce their capacity.
We are extremely grateful to our residents and employees who continue to be patient and supportive. These are indeed challenging times, and all have risen to the challenges. With God’s guidance we will continue to address all challenges with grace, wisdom, and compassion for all. In addition to continued prayers for all those impacted by COVID-19, we ask for prayers for those in the path of Hurricane Isaias, including many of our Acts communities. Please know that our corporate and regional real estate and operations teams have been strategically dispatched to provide assistance to our Southeast and Mid-South region communities over the weekend. In addition, we have implemented our hurricane preparedness protocols and stand ready to serve and protect each of you.
May God continue to bless us all. Please continue to be well and safe.