COVID-19 Update: August 24, 2020

It is with fierce determination that we assure the community that we are doing everything in our power to contain the outbreak of Covid19 that we are experiencing in our nursing home. The leadership team was onsite throughout the weekend, and we have been in frequent communication with our Medical Director. We are providing significant staff support and education, and completing comprehensive auditing to ensure compliance with our infection control and surveillance plans. We met yesterday with state and local officials from the Rapid Assistance Support Team, and through that team, we were able to request emergency staffing assistance through the WEAVR program. We have provided multiple updates daily to the Division of Quality Assurance as well, and we expect a Focused Infection Control Survey (inspection) as a result of this outbreak. We have also been in personal communication with the families whose loved ones are positive, symptomatic, or exposed, and provided written communication to all families, residents, and staff about significant developments.

There are currently 11 residents/patients of St. Paul Home being cared for in our Covid19 isolation unit, which is equipped with negative pressure and a distinct air handling system. The staff assigned to our Covid19 isolation unit are equipped with all required PPE, including fit-tested N95 masks and/or PAPR units. While some of these residents/patients are experiencing only mild illness, others are more seriously ill.

Neither St. Paul Villa nor St. Paul Manor are currently impacted by this outbreak.

It is with great frustration that we implore the community yet again to practice pandemic responsibility. The most reliable predictor of outbreaks of Covid19 in long-term care facilities is the presence of Covid19 in the community and the rate of community transmission as a result of community behavior and adherence to pandemic guidelines or lack thereof.

Sadly, for the last several weekends, we have been sandwiched between large gatherings of mostly unmasked individuals. Between the all-day baseball tournaments at Horseshoe Park that have drawn hundreds of spectators, many of whom ignore our signage and park in our employee parking lots, and the large weekend crowds and events at the neighboring tavern, our residents/patients have been mere steps from potential “superspreader” scenarios. While the optics of having such events happen right next door to a nursing home are bad enough, the actual impact they likely have on community transmission is not something we can remain silent about anymore.

Please reconsider non-essential gatherings. Superspreader events like car races and large sports tournaments and county fairs are extending this nightmare within long-term care. Even smaller events like graduation parties have had a direct impact on us. We are fighting with everything we have to protect the lives of those we serve–your moms, dads, grandparents, and our nation’s veterans– so many of whom sacrificed so much for this nation when asked.

Older lives are not expendable. They are not the price we should pay for anyone’s freedom to ignore public health and science. We have residents miserably sick and dying because people said staying home and sitting on their couch was too much to ask. Imagine how awful you feel when you have a fever and body aches and diarrhea. Now imagine feeling that at 95 years old.

Please commit to doing your part to ending this suffering. This is not a matter of politics, it’s a matter of humanity. History will favor the heroes of long-term care and those who tolerated the relatively minor inconveniences asked of them to save the lives of others.

A video version of this post is here so that those of you who don’t know me can hear this in my own voice. You will hear my confidence, my exhaustion, my compassion, my frustration, my transparency, and my fear. You will hear an actual person who represents the hundreds of staff who have been fighting this frontline battle for months now, and I hope that it helps you feel how real this is, if you have never felt it personally before.

To those who believe in us and are lifting us up in prayer and love, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. To those who are taking this pandemic as seriously as is warranted, thank you for your responsibility and selflessness.

Sondra Norder, President & CEO

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