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GSM Updates on COVID19

Posted on December 2nd, 2020

12/2/20

Over the last several weeks, the rate of Covid positivity has been high both locally and across the state.  At Good Shepherd Manor, we continue to identify positive cases among staff and residents, primarily through surveillance testing.

Since our last communication, 16 new cases have been identified among staff and 12 among residents.  Of those, 80% were identified through surveillance testing, 20% were identified by testing individuals with symptoms.  Overall, men are recovering.  Two men are currently hospitalized.  We have a relationship with a local nursing home with a Covid unit; men who test positive are spending their isolation period there.  This provides the men with close clinical monitoring and reduces the opportunity for transmission of infection within the group homes.

There are currently 26 employees out of the workplace, which has a significant impact on staffing.   We have implemented our existing Contingency and Crisis plans to respond to staffing shortages and meet the needs of the men.  To date, our Contingency and Crisis plans have been effective at mitigating the shortage.

We have established a relationship with a laboratory for routine weekly on-site PCR testing; anyone who displays symptoms is referred for immediate testing.   Additionally, we have also completed and submitted necessary certifications and documentation to the State to do on our own on site rapid testing.   Rapid testing is also known as Antigen testing.  Kankakee County Health Department, who we remain in frequent contact with, has provided us with the testing supplies at no cost.  We will be able to implement on site rapid testing, within parameters established by IDPH, as soon as authorization is received.

All homes remain on enhanced mitigations which call for reduced person to person contact, limit of movement in common areas, increased cleaning and disinfection, and the use of enhanced PPE for personnel.  We continue to encourage men who are safely able to use cloth or medical face coverings when outside of their bedrooms.  As the situation progresses, we continue to work to balance mitigation measures with the mental, social, and physical needs of the men.  Current mitigation measures are expected to last into the beginning of the new year.

A vaccine is expected to be available within the next several weeks.  Yesterday, it was determined that healthcare workers and long term care residents are designated for Tier 1 distribution. We have registered with the National Health Safety Network for access to a vaccine at this tier, as well as assistance with administration.  We remain in contact with IDPH regarding a vaccine and will communicate as soon as we learn if we are approved for Tier 1 distribution and when that can be expected.

As we approach the holidays, we understand that this year will be especially challenging for men and their families, as well as for staff.  We appreciate your continued support and prayers.

 

11/23/20

Last week, we communicated that the rate of Covid positivity is high both locally and across the state, resulting in impact at Good Shepherd Manor.  At this time, we have 30 employees out of the workplace and have identified positive cases among either staff or men at each home. We have implemented our existing Contingency and Crisis plans to respond to staffing shortages and meet the needs of the men.

Most positive cases are being identified through surveillance testing, rather than individuals presenting with symptoms of illness.  Among both staff and men, approximately 70% of identified positive cases are asymptomatic at the time of identification.   The health and safety of men and staff remains our utmost priority.  We continue surveillance testing to identify and isolate individuals and reduce the opportunity for transmission.

Illinois remains under Tier 3 Mitigations in all 11 Regions.  At Good Shepherd Manor, all homes remain on heightened mitigations which call for reduced person to person contact, limit of movement in common areas, increased cleaning and disinfection, and the use of enhanced PPE.  This includes a mask, face shield, and gown for any personnel inside of a group home, as well as the use of gloves for any direct contact.  We have also implemented the use of N95 respirators for personnel able to safely tolerate them and continue to encourage men to use cloth or medical face coverings when outside their bedrooms.

While under Tier 3 Mitigations, we must also suspend any on site visitation, including outdoor visits.  In order to resume outdoor visits, Tier 3 Mitigations must be lifted and the county must achieve and maintain specific criteria for at least 14 days.

We understand that this news is disheartening to many families; however home visits will still be permitted with no anticipated change to our current visitation procedures.  For those families still choosing to take men home, please refer to previously distributed guidelines.

As Thanksgiving approaches, we strongly suggest following the guidance of the CDC and other health authorities to limit the spread of the virus.  The safest way to celebrate is with those who live in your home, and connect with extended family virtually.

We wish everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving and appreciate your continued understanding and support as we work through this incredibly challenging time.

 

11/19/20

In response to the rising positive COVID cases in Illinois, and in an effort to be as proactive as possible, Good Shepherd Manor is currently testing all previously negative personnel who have any resident interaction weekly.  Additionally, we have tested several homes during round one of testing, and plan to continue to test all previously negative men monthly, on a weekly fractional basis.

During this week’s round of CILA/ICF testing, 4 additional positive cases have been identified among men, which directly affect 4 of the houses.  As noted in yesterday’s correspondence, all homes continue to be on heightened mitigation in an effort to flatten the curve, and keep the men and staff safe here at Good Shepherd Manor.

If your loved one is directly affected, you will be immediately and directly notified.

As circumstances change, we may need to test more frequently or at different intervals.  In the event of a new positive identified at a home among staff or residents, we prioritize testing for previously negative men in that home.  If an employee reports symptoms or has an elevated temperature, he or she is excluded from the workplace and referred for testing immediately.  If a resident displays symptoms he is assessed by nursing; referrals for immediate testing are then made based upon the findings of the nurse.

When an individual has previously tested positive, he or she is typically not retested, CDC guidelines for transmission based precautions are followed.

We are grateful for your continued thoughts and prayers as we continue to work through this difficult situation.

 

11/18/20

On Monday we communicated that the surrounding community, Region 7, is experiencing positivity rates around 20% and that these increases have now impacted Good Shepherd Manor.  Currently, there are 16 employees out of the workplace who have tested positive.  10 men have tested positive, with impact at 4 of our CILA homes.

This is an evolving and deeply concerning situation, which we take very seriously.   In response to this outbreak, all homes are currently following heightened mitigation measures. Such measures include all staff wearing full PPE; use of disposables for meal service, hourly disinfection of high touch surfaces, and limit of movement in common areas of the homes.

As cases continue to rise throughout the state in every region, surpassing the spring peak, the Governor and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has announced that all 11 regions will move into Tier 3 effective Friday, November 20, 2020 at 12:01am.

What this means for GSM is that we will have to temporarily discontinue outdoor visitation until we can return to Tier 2. In order to do so, the following metrics must be met:

  • A seven-day test positivity average below 12% for three consecutive days
  • More than 20% availability for intensive care units and hospital beds for three consecutive days
  • A decline in seven-day hospitalization average for at least seven days

We understand that this news is disheartening to many families; however home visits will still be permitted with no anticipated change to our current visitation procedures.  For those families still choosing to take men home, please refer to previously distributed guidelines.

The health and safety of the residents and staff remain our utmost priority.  We encourage everyone to work to limit the spread of the virus by wearing a face covering outside of your home and household, wash your hands, and practice social distancing.

11/16/20

Throughout the first eight months of the pandemic, Good Shepherd Manor was fortunate to avoid significant impact.  Right now, there is a high positivity rate of Coronavirus cases around the country, across Illinois, and in Kankakee County.  The region that we are in, Region 7, is experiencing positivity rates around 20%.  The high incidence of infection in the surrounding community has now had a significant impact at Good Shepherd Manor.  In recent weeks, we have had sixteen staff and ten men test positive for the Coronavirus with 11 of those positive results coming in the last 24 hours.

Throughout this situation, we remain in frequent communication with the local health department.  We will continue to work with, and follow the guidance of the local and state Health Departments.  Contact tracing is a function of the health department, not Good Shepherd Manor, and we provide all requested information to them if a positive case is identified.

When an individual tests positive, they must isolate until meeting the criteria to discontinue.  The CDC criteria for discontinuing isolation is typically 10 days from symptom onset, with improving symptoms and at least 24 hours fever free.  This is different than the 14 day quarantine period in the event of close contact.  The CDC defines close contact as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 2 days before illness onset or, 2 days prior to positive specimen collection for asymptomatic individuals, until the time the person is isolated.

When a positive case is identified among staff, that individual is excluded from the workplace in keeping with current CDC and IDPH guidelines, which is generally 10 days from symptom onset or the date of test collection if asymptomatic.  When a positive case is identified among residents, we are now working with local skilled care facilities to secure temporary placement on a Covid unit for clinical monitoring and to limit the opportunity for transmission within the GSM community.

We have implemented weekly testing of personnel as well as frequent resident testing. All personnel are screened for symptoms and temperature before and during work.  Men are screened for symptoms and have vitals collected on each shift.  Staff follows prevention measures including frequent hand hygiene, discontinuing group activities and dining, limiting the use of common rooms, frequent cleaning and disinfection, as well as use of enhanced PPE, beyond what is normally used in a group home setting.

We have not operated Day Program since October 21st and will reassess after Thanksgiving and on an ongoing basis throughout the duration of the pandemic.  We have registered with the National Health Safety Network for access to vaccine ahead of availability to the general public.  If approved, we would also receive assistance with administration.  The vaccines in development have many handling requirements that exceed the abilities of community level providers.

Health authorities at both local and state levels have been communicating to the public that small gatherings in private homes are a large contributor to the spread of infection and advises against any gathering with individuals from outside of our own households. With the approach of the Thanksgiving holiday, we know that many families were hopeful that restrictions surrounding visits and home visits would relax.  IDPH has been clear that this will not be the case and has warned that more stringent restrictions will be imposed if local and state positivity is not abated.

We understand that many families wish to take men home over the upcoming holidays.  At this time, there is no change, nor any anticipated change, to our current visitation procedures.  For those families taking men home for extended visits, we encourage compliance with public health guidelines or mandates in your destination area throughout the duration of the visit.

Outside visitation continues on a scheduled basis.  To schedule a visit with your loved one please call 815-472-3700 ext 1341.  Guidelines for outdoor visiting are attached.   Outdoor visits may not take place inside of a walled structure, such as a tent with walls.  We understand that the weather is becoming increasingly challenging for outdoor visits, but must comply with IDPH directives.

Scheduled home visits may also be accommodated. To schedule a home visit with your loved one please call 815-472-3700 ext 1341.  Guidelines for home visits are attached for men who live in CILA homes.  If men who live in either of the ICFs (Thomas Lombard House & Thomas Herbstritt House) leave the home with family for any period of time, we are required to place the individual in isolation for 14 days.

 

11/11/20

Since Monday, we have been notified of additional staff and residents testing positive for the Coronavirus.  Currently, there are six staff and seven men who have recently tested positive.

The Covid positivity rate is very high locally and we expect that we will continue to experience the impact of the virus within the GSM community.  We will continue to put forth our best efforts to limit the spread and monitor and care for the men.

Staff continues to closely monitor men, including collecting temperature and vitals on each shift.  Staff remains diligent in completing the additional tasks associated with prevention, including changes to mealtime and other day to day functions, using appropriate PPE while working, and extra cleaning and sanitizing.

We are in communication with health authorities and report new cases as they occur.  We follow the guidance of the local and state Health Departments to ensure proper treatment and follow-up is provided.  The health and safety of our residents and staff remain our highest priority.

11/9/20

We were notified today that two additional staff members tested positive for Coronavirus.  For privacy purposes we cannot disclose any further information about the individuals. We have contacted the local health department to advise of the situation and determine if additional action is recommended.

As Covid positivity rises locally and across the state, we continue work to limit the spread of the virus.  Last week, we made the difficult decision to return to providing Day Program services exclusively in the group homes.  We are implementing weekly routine testing of personnel and continue to refer symptomatic individuals for immediate testing.  We continue to screen all personnel and remain in regular communication with the local health department.

Staff continues to closely monitor men, including collecting temperature and vitals on each shift.  Staff remains diligent in completing the additional tasks associated with prevention, including changes to mealtime and other day to day functions, using appropriate PPE while working, and extra cleaning and sanitizing.

We maintain communication with health authorities and follow the guidance of the local and state Health Departments to ensure proper treatment and follow-up is provided.  The health and safety of our residents and staff remain our highest priority.

11/7/20

After being notified Thursday of potential exposure to the Coronavirus, impacted individuals were tested.  Over the last 24 hours, we were notified that three men and an additional staff member have tested positive.  For privacy purposes we cannot disclose any further information about the individuals.  All men are in good condition at this time and are being closely monitored in isolation.  We have contacted the local health department to advise of the situation and determine if additional action is recommended.

As Covid positivity rises locally and across the state, we continue work to limit the spread of the virus.  Earlier this week, we made the difficult decision return to providing Day Program services exclusively in the group homes.  We are implementing weekly routine testing of personnel and continue to refer symptomatic individuals for immediate testing.  We continue to screen all personnel and remain in regular communication with the local health department.

Staff continues to closely monitor men, including collecting temperature and vitals on each shift.  Staff remains diligent in completing the additional tasks associated with prevention, including changes to mealtime and other day to day functions, using appropriate PPE while working, and extra cleaning and sanitizing.

We maintain communication with health authorities and follow the guidance of the local and state Health Departments to ensure proper treatment and follow-up is provided.  The health and safety of our residents and staff remain our highest priority.

 

11/5/20

Today we were notified that a staff person tested positive for COVID-19.  For privacy purposes we cannot disclose any further information about the individual. The individual has not been on the premises in several days and no men at the impacted homes are symptomatic.  All residents are monitored closely.  We are currently in communication with the local health department to determine further actions.

Families have been notified by email and a letter has been sent to those family members without an email on file. Staff were also notified.

COVID positivity rates are increasing both locally and across the state at concerning levels.  At this time, out of an abundance of caution, we will return to providing Day Program services exclusively in the group homes.  This decision is not made lightly; it is made with the safety and health of men, staff, and everyone’s families at the top of mind. The health and safety of our residents and staff remain our highest priority.

 

10/19/20

It is with heavy hearts that we report that one of our residents has tested positive for COVID-19. For privacy purposes we cannot disclose any further information about the resident. The resident is doing well at this time and is in isolation.  All residents are monitored closely.  All previously negative residents and staff from the impacted home were tested last week, as well as the week before, and tested negative.   We are currently in communication with the local health department to determine further actions.

Good Shepherd Manor continues to communicate with the local health department and follow proper protocols. Since March, all individuals have been screened prior to entry to any building.  The men have had their temperature taken every shift.  We have reinforced proper hand and cough hygiene, and universal masking is in place.  We have been following all state and local guidelines. We will continue to work with, and follow the guidance of the local and state Health Departments to ensure proper treatment and follow-up is provided.  The health and safety of our residents and staff remain our highest priority.

10/2/20

Additional staff tests have all come back negative. The one staff person that tested positive for COVID19 is deferred and not at the Manor at this time.

The first resident that tested positive this week is back from the hospital and is currently in isolation at the Manor although he has been medically cleared and is asymptomatic. The second resident that tested positive is also asymptomatic and is in isolation at the Manor until the quarantine period is complete per CDC, State, & local health department guidelines. The rest of the men are well and without symptoms of illness.

Families and staff have all been notified every step of the way. As always, for privacy purposes we cannot disclose any further information about the resident or staff member.

9/30/20

Updated information since reporting the one positive COVID19 case on Monday 9/28/20:  Following the guidelines from the Health Department we tested all residents and staff members from the house where there was a positive case. We were notified today that we have one additional resident that tested positive and one staff member. Neither are showing any symptoms of illness. We have results back on all of the residents of the house and all of them tested negative for the virus except the one additional resident. We are waiting on additional test results from several staff, but we felt it was important to be transparent with the information that we currently have. The original resident that was diagnosed remains off campus and does not show any signs of illness.

9/28/20

It is with heavy hearts that we report that one of our residents has tested positive for COVID-19. The resident was diagnosed during a hospital stay unrelated to COVID symptoms. He is currently not at the Manor. Families have been notified by email and a letter has been sent to those family members without an email on file. Staff were also notified. As we have mentioned before, our top priority is the health and safety of our residents and staff. We also take our resident’s right to privacy seriously and therefore will not release any further information.

7/31/20

It is with heavy hearts that we report that one of our staff members has tested positive for COVID-19. Families have been notified by email and a letter has been sent to those family members without an email on file. Staff were also notified. As we have mentioned before, our top priority is the health and safety of our residents and staff. We also take our staff members right to privacy seriously and therefore will not release any further information.

6/29/20

Updated visiting guidelines 6.29.20

6/25/20

It is with heavy hearts that we report that one of our staff members has tested positive for COVID-19. Families have been notified by email and a letter has been sent to those family members without an email on file. Staff were also notified. As we have mentioned before, our top priority is the health and safety of our residents and staff. We also take our staff members right to privacy seriously and therefore will not release any further information.

6/24/20

As stated in our previous update all residents and employees were tested on Thursday, May 21.  All residents and staff have tested negative. The resident that had previously tested positive, has met the criteria for recovery and is back in his home. While we are happy to share this news, we understand that we must continue to take aggressive preventive action to minimize the impact of the virus on the men and staff at Good Shepherd Manor. We will update again, once we have heard back from all staff with their test results.  We will continue to implement intervention and mitigation recommendations from Kankakee County Health Department, IDPH, and other regulatory bodies as the situation evolves.

As stated before, guidelines from CDC and IDPH change frequently.  Our leadership team is included in the IDPH alert system and participates in weekly training to ensure that we remain current in our prevention and mitigation strategies.  We hold weekly training and communication teleconferences to all personnel and distribute print material often so that all personnel remain up to date as well.

5/14/20

IMPORTANT UPDATE REGARDING REQUIREMENTS AND TESTING

We are following the requirements of the Illinois Department of Public Health with regard to our workforce.  Those requirements include:

  • All employees enter at a central location and are screened pre-shift and mid shift for:  Fever of 100 or greater, sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, new or unusual headache, chills or shaking with chills, and muscle pain.
  • If any fever or symptoms are noted at pre-shift or mid-shift screening, the employee is immediately excluded from the workplace and required to report for testing.  They are excluded from the workplace from the length of time appropriate to their test outcomes in keeping with IDPH guidelines.
  • The Kankakee County Health Department is notified of any employees deferred from the workplace and provides guidance with return to work.
  • Universal face mask use at all times on duty
  • Hand hygiene upon entry and at all points of care
  • Hourly cleaning and disinfection of all hard surfaces
  • Use of PPE appropriate to individual care giving situations

Additionally, all men must wear cloth face coverings when they are outside of their rooms.  The full set of guidelines that we are required to follow is too lengthy to communicate in an email, but is available here:  http://www.dph.illinois.gov/sites/default/files/IDPH%20LTC%20Guidance%20updated%205.7.20.pdf

Governor Pritzker has announced that he intends to make testing available or required for all nursing homes, however there is a prioritization for this and we have not been notified of any state mandated testing for our site.  It is important to note that our CILA homes do not fall under the Nursing Home Act and may or may not be included in mandatory state testing.   This determination would be made at State and Local levels and communicated to providers.  We will follow all directives of the authorities with regard to additional testing

In order to ensure the safety of our residents and staff, Good Shepherd Manor initiated contact and has partnered with the Kankakee County Health Department and Riverside Medical Center to complete on-site universal testing of all men and staff.  The date for that event is 5/21 and logistics will be arranged in keeping with CDC guidelines by the team that RMC sends. 

Guidelines from CDC and IDPH change frequently.  Our leadership team is included in the IDPH alert system and participates in weekly training to ensure that we remain current in our prevention and mitigation strategies.  We hold weekly training and communication teleconferences to all personnel and distribute print material often so that all personnel remain up to date as well.

_______________________________________________________________________

OLDER POSTS: As always, the health and safety of our residents, staff, and families remain our top priority.  The situation with Covid-19 continues to develop and there are now over 79,000 cases in Illinois, over 3,400 deaths, and over 810 cases in Kankakee County with 33 deaths.  As of 5/13/2020 we have been notified that one resident has been diagnosed with COVID-19. He is currently in isolation and is being provided care consistent with the recommendations of the physician and the health department.

All Residential services at Good Shepherd Manor remain operational.  Staff is working hard to keep men safe, healthy, and engaged in activities during this difficult time.  We have been truly blessed by the creativity and determination of the staff that comes here to serve the men.

We continue to take aggressive preventive action to minimize the impact of the virus on the men and staff at Good Shepherd Manor. The following steps have been implemented at GSM:

Masks:

  • Must be worn by all personnel at all times, covering mouth and nose
  • Must be worn by all men outside of their rooms or when staff need to enter

Hand Hygiene:

  • Everyone must sanitize or wash hands immediately upon entry to all group homes
  • Wash or sanitize hands frequently and at all 5 points of resident care
  • Prompt and assist men to wash or sanitize their hands frequently

Increased Cleaning and Disinfection:

  • All hard surfaces must be disinfected hourly and after being touched:
  • Light switches, door knobs, remote controls, chair arms, table tops bathrooms, fridge/microwave handles, etc.)

Social Distancing:

  • Maintain at least 6 feet of distance between all people
  • No group dining or activities
  • No more than 9 people in any room and at least 6 feet of space between all people

Don’t Touch Your Face & Follow Cough/Sneeze Etiquette

PPE:  masks on properly, gloves for any resident contact, eye protection for high contact activities, gowns for care of ill men, follow donning/doffing procedure

Staff:

  • Must NOT to report to work ill
  • Must be screened pre-shift and at 4 hour intervals while working for fever and symptoms
  • Will report to RMC for testing if excluded due to fever or symptoms

Residents:

  • Must have full vitals, including pulse ox, checked & documented at 6a, 2p, & 9p
  • Must be directed to room immediately if any symptom is noted and notify nursing & supervisor
  • May need 4 hour pulse ox checks in some situations

NO VISITORS:

  • No visitors
  • Only essential personnel & repairs
  • All deliveries outside through approved vendors, NO shopping, takeout, or meal delivery
  • Exchange of paperwork, supplies, etc. is contactless to the extent possible

We will continue to monitor developments and follow the directions of health experts and authorities.  We appreciate your support, concern, and patience as we work to respond to this global health crisis.