Nursing homes restrict visitation due to coronavirus

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

If you decide to go visit someone in a local nursing home, you may not get in.

The majority of senior residence facilities in Dubois County are not allowing visitors to come inside.

“We know this is not the ideal situation. But we are doing this to protect our residents,” said Shawn Neisteadt, spokesman for Good Samaritan Society, which runs Northwood Retirement Community in Jasper. “We are looking at this on a case-by-case basis for those who need to enter for end-of-life situations. But for other matters, we are encouraging loved ones to find another means of communications.”

The Indiana State Department of Health has confirmed 12 presumptive positive cases of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing COVID-19 is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.

Signs on the doors of local nursing facilities alert the public of no entry. And if a staff worker sees someone at the door, that person may come outside to apologize and explain the situation.

“We’ve been on lockdown since 5 p.m. last night (Tuesday),” a worker at the Timbers of Jasper said Wednesday afternoon.

Sherri Davies, a representative of American Senior Communities, which runs the Timbers, emailed a statement about the precautions being taken.

“The threat posed by COVID-19 for the elderly is particularly significant as stated by expert epidemiologists across the world,” she wrote. “Temporarily, we are restricting visitors and limiting access to our facilities to essential personnel following a screening process.”

The facility is following the guidelines issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Indiana Healthcare Association, and the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living.

“We are very sensitive to the needs of our customers and understand that connecting our residents with their loved ones is incredibly important,” Davies wrote. “We are offering access to communication devices and extra support to families desiring a visit with their loved ones through alternative methods such as telephone, email, text, video chat or social media during this challenging public health concern.”

Families with extenuating circumstances can call the facility’s administrator to request special arrangements, Davies said in the statement.

Susan Sluder, administrator at the Waters of Huntingburg, said the facility is requesting that no one visit the center at this time “out of an abundance of caution for our residents.”

She also sent out an official statement about what the facility is doing at this time.

“The safety and well-being of our residents and staff is our top priority,” she wrote, “and we are taking a very aggressive and proactive approach in preventing and, if necessary, defending against the virus through intense monitoring, screening, education and awareness, and appropriate prevention and management. The Waters of Huntingburg has developed and implemented comprehensive plans and policies concerning the Novel Coronavirus, modeled after the guidelines and recommendations issued by the CDC.”

Brookside Village in Jasper also has a sign posted stating no visits are allowed at this time. A representative of CarDon & Associates, which runs Brookside, did not respond to The Herald about the matter. But the company has a statement online saying that it is following the guidelines of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, “and as such we are limiting ALL outside visitors with the exception of rare circumstances, such as immediate family members in end-of-life situations or when it is medically necessary for our resident.”

Signs posted at St. Charles Health Campus and Cathedral Health Care Center in Jasper Wednesday afternoon cautioned people about entering the facilities.

“Please DO NOT VISIT if you have had international travel in the last 14 days or if you are experiencing signs of a respiratory infection,” part of the sign at Cathedral reads. It also lists symptoms and requests that visitors sign in at the nurse’s desk before visiting residents. The Herald left a message for the administrator at Cathedral on Wednesday.

A representative of Trilogy Health Services, which runs St. Charles Health Campus in Jasper and Scenic Hills at the Monastery in Ferdinand did not return a call from The Herald on Wednesday. But a receptionist at Scenic Hills said that the facility was not accepting visits. A sign on St. Charles’ door asks that people not come into the facility if they have traveled to areas that have been affected by COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone who has traveled to those areas.

Legacy Living of Jasper did not want to comment on what is being done at the facility. But the grand opening that was originally scheduled for Friday has been canceled.

Senior centers are also taking extra precautions.

The Huntingburg Senior Center has masks for visitors to use, and plenty of hand sanitizer if available. “And I sanitize all the tables and chairs,” Facility Director Rita Reller said.

People are still able to come to the center, “but I may make them wear a mask if they are coughing or anything,” Reller said.

At this time of the year, the Arnold F. Habig Community Center in Jasper has extra hand sanitizer out for people to use and hand washing is emphasized. But the center is taking other sanitizing measures.

“Twice a day, the cleaning crew is cleaning everything and spraying Lysol,” Facility Director Carie Dick said. “We’ve added signs on the door that if you’re not feeling well, please stay home.

“We are trying to take the same precautions as we would do for a flu outbreak.”



COVID-19

The Dubois County Health Department states that there are three major symptoms attached to COVID-19: fever, cough and shortness of breath.

If you have these signs, call your health provider for instructions. Do not go to the doctor’s office; call first, Health Department Administrative Director Jo Ann Spaulding said.

“If you feel sick enough where you know if you have shortness of breath and you obviously need more attention, then you need to call the emergency department ahead of time and let them know of your symptoms,” she said. “If you have those three symptoms: fever, cough shortness of breath, call ahead of time.”

The general public should practice the same preventive actions they would if they were trying to avoid catching the flu.

Wash your hands. Avoid touching your face. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. And stay home when you are sick.




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