Providence Carroll Manor Nursing & Rehabilitation Center Credit: Courtesy of Ascension Living

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Some of the area’s most vulnerable citizens are the ones who are the most sedentary. Seniors living in nursing homes and rehabilitation centers are at a higher risk for infection from the coronavirus due to age and possibly having compromised immune systems.

On March 4, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued Guidance for Infection Control and Prevention of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in nursing homes. It included tips on how to screen visitors, staff, and residents for the virus. Eight days later, the visitation guidelines were revised to restrict all visitors with a few exceptions. As nursing homes work to protect residents and staff, City Paper checked in with a few D.C. facilities to see how things are going.

Providence Carroll Manor Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Northeast is monitoring patient health, restricting visits, and screening employees and residents. Molly Gaus, senior director of marketing and communications for Ascension Living, the parent company of Carroll Manor, says they are sticking to the guidelines to ensure everyone’s safety. 

“Infection control specialists at our sites of care are working closely with the CDC and local public health authorities to detect, protect and respond in accordance with current recommendations and guidelines,” she writes via email. “We have implemented the recommended infection control precautions and protocols within our sites of care and our caregivers have received training in infection control practices and protocols.”

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One D.C. facility is asking for help from the community to sustain during these challenging days and weeks. Stoddard Baptist Foundation, which has three locations in the District, say they need support “as this COVID19 situation has tapped into our emergency supplies and volunteer support.”

Steve Nash, president and CEO of Stoddard Baptist Foundation, explained in an email that while they have some supplies on hand it is not up to the level that they need to carry them throughout this crisis. “There is a challenge across the country of obtaining supplies such as gloves, wipes, masks, paper goods (plates/cups/utensils/bowls), hand sanitizer. We are thankful that we have dedicated vendors and suppliers that work hard to get us what is needed; however, we need more help.” Nash suggested that the community can help by making monetary donations or dropping off supplies at the front door of any of their facilities. Staff will be available to receive them or a collection bin will be set up. 

At Little Sisters of the Poor-Jeanne Jugan Residence in Northeast, the staff is trying to juggle following CMS guidelines with keeping residents connected to the outside world. “We are doing our utmost to follow all the guidelines that are coming out from the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) in conjunction with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) guidelines,” Sister Constance Veit, communications director for LSOP DC, told Catholic Standard. “We’ve had to curtail visitors and volunteers from coming in, but we are doing all we can so that residents don’t get lonely or anxious.” They are looking into using video conferencing services such as Skype to add visual lines of communication.

Veit suggested that although seniors might not be adept at  social media, they can use the telephone. “Call at least once a day to make sure the elders in your life are well and have what they need,” she suggests. “Just knowing someone cares about them will help sustain their spirits.”

Providence Carroll Manor added that they too would share messages with residents from loved ones. They requested some help for the caretakers as well. “We would love the community to share messages of joy with our residents and appreciation with our amazing caregivers, who are living our mission to care for those in need,” Gaus writes. “The simplest way to do that is go to ascensionliving.org/Contact and fill out the Contact Us form. We will share the messages we receive. If restaurants would like to donate meals to our caregivers, that would also be welcomed.”

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