Frequently Asked Questions About Our Infectious Disease Protocols

Community-specific Questions

What protocols do you have in place for prevention of infection from a pandemic like the Coronavirus?

We are committed as always to full transparency and compliance with the latest COVID-19 guidelines and recommendations from the CDC, state and local governing authorities as well as best practices that will keep residents and team members safe and in good health.

Protocols and updates are provided regularly on our COVID-19 Information Center website.

How is the staff trained in the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases?

Through in-servicing at each community and continual education of team members to new protocols, entry and visitation procedures, use of PPE equipment, dining and cleaning procedures and screening of team members and residents.

Are there ample supplies of protective equipment (gowns, gloves, facemasks, etc?) at the community?

Our Teams have been provided with gowns, gloves, facemasks, and eye protective wear. All of our community team members are wearing masks at all times to prevent the spread. If a resident is presenting symptoms, team members are wearing full PPE (gloves, masks, gowns) when providing care.

How are staff screened each day before entering the community?

All staff are being screened and documented at the beginning of each shift. This process includes using screening logs for symptoms and questions about travel to or contact with areas of potential COVID-19 exposure, including other places of employment, other Senior Living community, as well as temperature readings prior to entering the community.

What are the protocols if a resident tests positive for an infectious disease?

Protocols vary and are dependent upon the location and health status of the resident if they are confirmed positive. If the resident is in the hospital, they remain there until stable for discharge. If a resident tests positive while being in the community and they are stable, all infection control protocols are implemented including the use of full PPE. If a resident is confirmed to be COVID positive while living in the community and their health in unstable, they will be transferred to the hospital for stabilization and further evaluation. Also, dependent on the infectious disease and if they are still considered contagious also factors into the protocols put into place to care for the resident.

How can my family member interact with others during a quarantine?

Team members are interacting with residents regularly, we are engaging with them in new and creative ways by facilitating family and friend communication on Skype and FaceTime, holding specialized events via video and engaging in more one-on-one small group programming. We have also brought back the old-fashioned US post office mail method of pen pals among our sister communities. Families are encouraged to visit the communities on the outside of the building and teams will set up areas for residents to visit through windows/glass doors/balconies, etc.

How are meals, medications and assisted living delivered during a quarantine?

We are delivering meals to each apartment or suite. We are also utilizing refreshment carts to provide in-between meal snacks and specialty items. All medication, treatment and care is being provided in Resident suites.

Are independent living residents allowed to come and go as they wish during a quarantine?

Federal and state agencies continue to provide stringent protocols around self-isolation and social distancing. We have elected to update our protocol according to these guidelines in the interest of protecting residents and team members. We strongly discourage any resident from leaving the community. Should an Independent living resident decide to leave the community, they are required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon return to the community.

Our community teams are prepared to work closely with each resident and to provide assistance in meeting any needs a resident may have outside of the community including shopping and medication pickups.

If a resident leaves the community for a routine yet necessary health-care need, they are to be placed in continual self-isolation and screened every 4 hours. If the resident is symptom- free, an opportunity should be provided for them to leave their apartment, accompanied by a team member following social distancing protocol of 6 feet of separation.

Are residents that test positive for an infectious disease relocated to dedicated areas of the community for treatment?

Currently, a separately dedicated area of the community for COVID19-positive residents is not required unless mandated by the local state and health department. Should a dedicated quarantine area be required, a cohort plan will be administered.

How can my family and I remotely communicate or stay in touch with residents during a quarantine?

We have been assisting family members sustain connections by setting up Skype, Zoom and FaceTime calls along with phone calls and other methods of communication for keeping in close touch. Should you or your family member need technical support with the different communication platforms, please contact a community team member.

Can family members visit residents if there is a pandemic outbreak?

We understand how frustrating and anxious not being permitted to visit a loved one can be. However, in accordance with federal and state guidelines, we are restricting visitors except essential healthcare personnel, with the goal of preventing residents from being exposed to COVID-19.

How is news distributed to family members when the community is under a quarantine?

We will continue to post updates on our website and on our community Facebook page. We have also created a COVID-19 Information Center where we provide weekly community and protocol updates as well as resources available for residents and family.

COVID-19 General Questions

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, shortness of breath and dry cough. Some individuals may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea, loss of sense of taste and smell, tiredness or fatigue. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually.

Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.

How does COVID-19 spread?
People catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The virus spreads primarily person-to-person (direct transmission) through droplets expelled from the nose or mouth of an infected person who coughs, sneezes, speaks, laughs, yawns or simply exhales. Therefore, it is important to stay more than 6 feet away from others.

The secondary means of spread is indirect transmission, which occurs when these droplets land on objects, surfaces, and fabrics in the proximity and an uninfected person touches their eyes, nose or mouth after touching a contaminated surface. Hence it is imperative to avoid physical contact such as handshakes or embraces and to was hands frequently with plain soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Can Coronavirus be transmitted through the air?
Studies to date suggest that it is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets sprayed a distance of 6 ft or by touching contaminated surfaces rather than through the air. See previous answer on “How does COVID-19 spread?”

Can Coronavirus be caught from a person who has no symptoms?
The risk of transmission from someone with no symptoms at all is low, according to the WHO. However, many infected people experience only mild, barely observable symptoms. This is particularly true in the early stages of the disease. It is therefore possible to catch the virus from someone who has, for example, just a mild cough and does not feel ill. There is ongoing research across the globe on the period of transmission.

How long is the incubation period for COVID-19?
The “incubation period” is the time between catching the virus and beginning to have symptoms of the disease. The incubation period for COVID-19 in 99% of cases is within 15 days, supporting the standard 14-day quarantine period. These estimates will be updated as more data become available.

How long does the virus survive on surfaces?
Preliminary information suggests Coronavirus may persist on surfaces from a few hours to several days depending on conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment). A recent study found that the COVID-19 coronavirus can survive up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to 2-3 days on plastic and stainless steel. This highlights the importance of following the CDC’s recommendations for cleaning frequently touched surfaces and objects with disinfectant wipes multiple times every day (e.g. counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables).

Should I wear a mask to protect myself?
We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

Frequently clean your hands with soap and warm water, cover your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue and maintain a distance of at least 6 ft from others, especially if they are coughing or sneezing. These are the most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19.

How to put on, use, take off and dispose of a mask?

  1. Before touching the mask, clean hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
  2. Take the mask and inspect it for tears or holes.
  3. Orient which side is the top side (where the metal strip is).
  4. Ensure the proper side of the mask faces outwards.
  5. Place the mask to your face. Pinch the metal strip or stiff edge of the mask so it molds to the shape of your nose.
  6. Pull down the mask’s bottom so it covers your mouth and your chin.
  7. After use, take off the mask; remove the elastic loops from behind the ears while keeping the mask away from your face and clothes, to avoid touching potentially contaminated surfaces of the mask.
  8. Discard the mask in a closed bin immediately after use.
  9. Perform hand hygiene after touching or discarding the mask – Use alcohol-based hand rub or, if visibly soiled, wash your hands with soap and water.

Is there anything I should not do?
The following measures ARE NOT effective against COVID-19 and can be harmful:

  • Smoking
  • Wearing multiple masks
  • Taking antibiotics

Can I use antibacterial soap?
No. This is a viral disease and antibacterial substances are of no benefit. The gold standard for hand hygiene is hand washing with regular soap and water for at least 20 seconds (sing Happy Birthday twice). Only when there is no soap and running water, should you use 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer.