Today, COVID-19 presents a huge challenge to our daily lives, but nowhere is this challenge as acute as within our senior living communities. For those of us who care for some of our community’s most vulnerable, this has been an especially challenging and stressful time as we defend against an invisible enemy.
As the CEO of Immanuel Lutheran Communities here in Kalispell, it’s important that for our community to understand the efforts underway to keep this virus from affecting the nearly 300 residents who reside in our community. Our older adult population is particularly susceptible to this rapidly spreading virus, so it is absolutely critical that we keep it from entering our campus. This is an obligation I do not take lightly.
Our commitment to providing a safe environment for our residents, their families and our staff has meant we have made some significant changes to defend against COVID-19. This has included restricting visitor access across our campus. We know this is stressful on both the residents and their families who wish to visit, but the risks of unknowingly exposing residents is too great right now. We are making arrangements, however, so that families can continue to maintain regular contact with their loved ones through social media, telephone, and other videoconferencing platforms.
We’ve also established protocols to care for new residents or for residents who are returning to our campus after an absence. These residents will be subject to a 14-day observation period in their private residences and in a separate neighborhood on campus. Dedicated staff that will care for these residents during that period will be assigned only to this neighborhood and will not mingle with other staff or other residents on campus.
We have also instituted other changes for our staff and leaders to prevent exposure to, or spread of the virus. All non-essential trainings, meetings and events have been postponed, rescheduled or are being held via teleconference. We are restricting non-direct service staff access to resident care areas, and are encouraging all of our employees to practice strict social distancing and isolating when outside of the office. All staff entering the building are required to complete a wellness survey, and anyone with symptoms of respiratory illness, infection, including a cough, runny nose or fever, are prohibited.
We remain vigilant in coordinating our prevention efforts alongside the Flathead County Health Department, and continue to meet or exceed all CDC and WHO guidelines, as well as those of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). In case all of these efforts still cannot prevent the spread of the virus, we have developed and practiced extensive contingency plans that we can deploy immediately to minimize spread of COVID-19 in our community.
As we move forward in this unusual time, I commit to this community that the dedicated staff at Immanuel Lutheran will do everything in its power to prevent this virus from taking hold here. I commit that we will keep everyone – from the residents and their families to the general public at large – informed of our progress. Thank you for your continued support and prayers!
Jason Cronk is CEO Immanuel Lutheran Communities.
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