The health and wellness of our residents and employees remain our highest priorities. We continue to be in close contact with local, state and federal health authorities, following their guidance, mandates and reporting requirements.
Communication is very important to us. Our hearts are with our families who are separated from their loved ones due to the visitor restrictions. We are very sensitive to the needs of our customers and understand that connecting our residents with their loved ones is incredibly important. We offer access to communication devices and extra support to families who desire 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.
During these uncertain times, we at American Senior Communities are unwavering in our mission to compassionately serve our residents with quality care and excellence.
Rest assured that our residents are surrounded by people who care for them deeply. Our ASC team members continue to meet our resident’s needs, serving delicious food and providing engaging activities.
One day, when this pandemic is behind us, we can rejoice and reunite our residents with their loved ones. Until then, our diligent work will continue around the clock to ensure the safety and well-being of all who live in and work at our communities.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) is an illness caused by a virus that can spread from person to person. COVID-19 symptoms can range from mild (or even no symptoms) to severe illness. Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus and include fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, sore throat, headache, chills, loss of taste or smell and muscle pain.
COVID-19 is spread by close contact with a person who has COVID-19. You can become infected from respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. You may also become infected by touching a surface or an object that has the virus on it, and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.
Currently, there is no vaccine to protect against COVID-19. The best way to protect yourself is to avoid being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. This can include avoiding close contact with others, wearing masks and other personal protective equipment, cleaning frequently touched surfaces often and washing your hands often or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
You can keep up to date on the symptoms and prevention of COVID-19 on the CDC website.
Daily, residents and employees are assessed for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and have their temperature taken. Employees exhibiting symptoms are immediately sent home until they meet the return to work guidelines outlined by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Residents exhibiting symptoms are tested and placed in special precautions while they await their results.
Uniquely and early on, American Senior Communities (ASC), created its own testing strike team and is collaborating with the IU Health Lab, which is providing test kits and rapidly reading the results. This strategy enhances ASC’s ability to quickly identify positive cases and implement isolation protocols. Early detection of the virus is imperative to reducing the exposure risk to other residents and to staff.
As additional testing became available, ASC began – and continues – to test 100% of our skilled nursing care residents in any facilities where there is reason to suspect a resident may be COVID-19 positive. ASC is testing 100% of residents in facilities located in high-risk regions, even those with no known COVID-19 contact. In Marion County, for example, 100% of our residents have been tested. Senior communities that test aggressively may report a higher number of cases than other communities that do not have the test capabilities of ASC. Employee testing is also being completed in accordance to state and federal mandates.
Treatment and Recovery
There is currently no FDA approved treatment for COVID-19. ASC’s Senior VP of Medical Affairs, Dr. Jose Pinon, along with the ASC COVID-19 taskforce, has been working closely with state and federal health authorities to ensure ASC protocols are in line with the most current care options available to fight this disease.
Symptoms of COVID-19 vary from mild (more like a common cold) to more severe symptoms such as respiratory distress. Just as symptoms vary, so do treatment options. ASC’s Director of Pharmacy coordinates efforts to maintain symptom control. This coordination engages each communities’ Medical Directors and resident following physicians.
Data shows that most people diagnosed with COVID-19 do recover. ASC utilizes the CDC’s symptom, or time-based strategy of recovery. The CDC’s guidance allows for recovery after 10 days. However, for the protection of our residents, ASC takes a more stringent approach by waiting 21 days. Under this guidance, 21 days must pass after the first symptom(s) appear. Additionally, there must be 72 hours with no fever or use of fever-reducing medications. Residents that are asymptomatic but have tested positive for COVID-19 must continue to be symptom free for 21 days before they would be considered recovered.
As the number of new cases declines and residents recover, hydration and nutrition monitoring are key components in the recovery care plan.
COVID-19 Screening of Employees and Essential Medical Providers
Limiting the number of people who enter our resident’s home and rigorously screening those who do enter, are important strategies to minimizing the exposure to COVID-19.
Entertainers and volunteers have temporarily been asked to delay their visits. Employees and essential medical providers are screened each time before they enter the community. Essential medical providers might include third-party vendors that contribute to the care we provide. Dentists, optometrists or podiatrists are some examples of essential medical providers.
Screening includes a questionnaire about COVID-19 symptoms and a temperature reading. Any employee or medical provider that triggers screening concerns is not permitted to work or provide service that day. Employees and medical providers are expected to wear personal protective equipment such as a mask, gloves, gowns, etc. and follow facility infection control policies and procedures while in the community.
ASC offers a dedicated admissions team that works side by side with families and hospital personnel to ensure a smooth transition for residents as they acclimate to their new setting.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, ASC offers prospective families a virtual tour and can answer questions via phone, email, text or video conference. Treatment consents can be signed electronically and shared via email for convenience. Directors of Admissions can also arrange off-site meetings with families if preferred.
To ensure the safety of our residents, each new resident is screened for COVID-19 symptoms prior to admission. Additionally, we welcome our new admissions into an enhanced infection control observation for their first two weeks. New residents dine and participate in therapy sessions in their room during those first two weeks. Engaging activities are also provided in-room.
At American Senior Communities, we believe that caring for others means personally knowing and valuing each individual as a person. We believe that each customer deserves to be known, recognized, understood and cared for as much emotionally as they do physically. Upon admission, each resident is paired with a CARE Companion. While residents are cared for by the full team, a CARE Companion is someone who goes above and beyond to identify mutual interests that typically lead to a deeper connection and friendship. These companions will provide a variety of updates to families as well as solicit preferences and help arrange visiting options. For more information about CARE Companions, click here.
Moving Forward Rehabilitation is designed for those striving to return home following a hospital stay but who could benefit from continued skilled nursing care, physical, occupation and/or speech therapy to restore self-care abilities and confidence. Programs are tailored to the individual; therefore, our programs are well positioned for modifications due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Upon admission, initial assessments, road to recovery goal setting meetings and initial therapy sessions occur in-room for at least two weeks. As conditions allow, our therapy team is eager to get patients in the therapy gyms and using our state-of-the-art equipment as soon as possible.
As therapy gyms open, equipment is sanitized before and after each therapy session and between treating each patient. Therapists wear masks and perform hand hygiene per guidelines, including throughout therapy sessions and between treating each patient.
Patients also preform hand hygiene before and after treatment and wear masks unless the patient is unable to tolerate the mask due to medical status.
Respiratory therapy services have been added to many communities to assist with respiratory issues related to COVID-19.
Where outpatient therapy services are available, state guidelines allow for those therapy sessions to resume.
Therapy is essential to the well-being, care and recovery of our patients. Our team remains focused on each patient’s health, safety and satisfaction.
American Senior Communities’ memory care neighborhoods are operating within the CDC’s COVID-19 recommendations currently in place for each ASC community.
For the health of our residents we are striving every day to honor state, local and federal guidelines, monitoring social distancing and encouraging residents to wear masks, as tolerated. Because COVID-19 restrictions may disrupt some of the daily activities and routines which enhance the lives our memory care residents, our highly trained memory care team is well equipped to observe for, and recognize any unusual, behavioral or symptom-based expressions that would denote a decrease in our residents’ psychosocial or emotional quality of life.
Our memory care employees are going above and beyond to continue to create meaningful moments with our residents every day. Our team is continuing to prioritize wellness and engagement along with excellent infection control practices.
One of the most important ways to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus is thorough and frequent cleaning of surfaces.
American Senior Communities has implemented enhanced housekeeping procedures to ensure a clean and sanitized environment. All housekeeping personnel are educated on infection control practices and cleaning strategies specific to COVID-19. Each housekeeper uses specialized, CDC approved disinfectant to kill the virus on surfaces. High touch areas such as light switches, doorknobs and call lights are sanitized multiple times per day by several team members. A Quality Assurance tool is used to validate that enhanced housekeeping procedures are being followed for every room and common area.
Because infection control is of the utmost importance, ASC is implementing a high-tech electrostatic spraying system called Protexus in each community. These state-of-the-art tools, already in use in major hotels, will only enhance our already rigorous approach to sanitization. Protexus fine mist sprayers will aid in disinfection of high touch areas, including fabrics such as couches, chairs, etc.
At American Senior Communities, we take pride in creating a pleasurable dining experience prepared by highly a skilled team of culinary experts. We understand that the social dining experience has historically been a very important part of our residents’ day. Unfortunately, in March, following state and federal mandates, our dining rooms were closed for the protection of our residents.
While communities with active positive COVID-19 cases will remain closed for now, new guidance creates a pathway to cautiously open some dining rooms in communities where there are no active cases. Extensive training with our culinary staff is being conducted on new precautions that will help open these selected dining rooms safely.
Some of the new precautions include:
• Dining rooms, including high touch areas such as tables and chairs, are sanitized before and after each dining service
• Single-use menus are offered
• Self-service food or beverage stations, such as, salad bars, coffee stations, etc. will remain closed at this time
• To limit the number of people in the dining room at any given time, communities offer a schedule of alternate days or staggered times of service for residents to dine
• Residents are seated 6 feet apart
• Dining room staff wears masks and performs hand hygiene per guidelines, including between assisting each resident
• Resident hand hygiene must be performed before and after each meal
• Single use condiment packages or containers are used
• Masks are worn by residents as they move to and from the dining room
Our dishwashers provide the sanitation required to kill many viruses and bacteria including the COVID-19 virus.
To help prevent the virus from entering our communities, outside vendors are given limited access to our kitchens. Many of our food deliveries are conducted outside and containers are wiped down with a sanitizing solution prior to storage.
Safety is of the utmost concern but so are the nutritional needs and satisfaction of our residents. The Culinary and Activity departments provide refreshments via a mobile snack cart; residents can choose from a variety of their favorite snacks and beverages which helps to improve nutrition and hydration and may also brighten their day.
For communities where there are active COVID-19 cases and dining rooms are closed, residents will continue to dine in their room. As an additional precaution, all residents diagnosed with COVID-19 will use disposable paper plates, cups and utensils to help prevent the spread of the virus.
The Culinary team remains focused on safety, nutrition and our residents’ satisfaction.
Activities for Life Enrichment
Activities are an important part of a resident’s day. Our employees go above and beyond to continue to create meaningful moments with our residents. Our Activity Departments have been very creative in their efforts!
Due to COVID-19, group activities have been reimagined. From conducting BINGO from the hallway to leading exercises and even dance contests, our activity professionals are continuing to prioritize wellness and engagement while adhering to social distancing and infection control guidance.
Independent, in-room activities are also provided. A variety of technology-based entertainment and activity platforms have shared their content with us. Using iPads and additional equipment, residents have access to music from the Great American Songbook, virtual museum tours, games, concerts, movies and more.
Each resident’s individual preferences and interests are assessed and supported as opportunities for life enrichment are presented either in their rooms or in a modified group setting.
We realize that the changes in daily routines and visitor restrictions caused by COVID-19 may be concerning for our residents. We are collaborating closely with local, state and federal health officials to continue to evaluate options for qualifying communities to ease restrictions while still ensuring resident safety.
Our activity professionals are continuing to prioritize wellness and engagement while maintaining social distancing and infection control.
Each resident is being monitored daily for indications of stress. Our team is trained to recognize any new or usual expressions that may indicate a concern. Things such as variations in sleeping or eating patterns, irritability, sadness and withdrawal from others are just a few of the symptoms that staff assesses for during resident interaction. In cases when these symptoms are observed, Social Services, the interdisciplinary team and the physician work in conjunction to develop a plan of care to address concerns. Interventions may include changes in the resident’s daily routine, how often they communicate with their loved ones and/or counseling services. Counseling services are available via Telehealth technology to maintain social distancing guidelines.
Families observing any change in their loved one’s psychosocial well-being, are encouraged to share their concerns with a member of the management team. These leaders can discuss observations and develop a plan for further assessment.
We understand that connecting our residents with their loved one is incredibly important during COVID-19 visitor restrictions. We offer access to communication devices and extra support to families who desire 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.
Visitation for Indiana Communities:
Family reunions are being planned under the new guidance released by the Indiana State Department of Health for outdoor visitation. We understand that residents and families are anxious to connect; American Senior Communities is utilizing policies and protocols based on this new guidance to keep our residents and employees safe while reintroducing visitation with loved ones.
Only ASC communities that meet specific criteria can allow visitations to occur.
Visitors at approved communities will be screened, asked to sign-in, wear a face mask and adhere to proper social distancing, along with other criteria. Residents must also wear a face mask and meet additional criteria during the visit.
ASC families are encouraged to review the criteria provided by ISDH which can be found here and will be notified when their loved ones’ community qualifies for these outdoor visitations. Frequently asked questions can be found here.
While there are some restrictions involved, this new guidance brings hope and we look forward to planning these long-awaited reunions.
Visitation for Kentucky Communities:
The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) has recommended a variety of steps that we are implementing to reduce the potential for the virus to enter our building. We ask for your cooperation and understanding as we implement those preventative measures for COVID-19.
Out of an abundance of caution, we are temporarily requesting that family and friends do not visit our communities at this time. Families with extenuating circumstances, such as an end of life situation, may request special arrangements be made by contacting the community’s Executive Director.
Do you have a sufficient amount of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?
As reported in the news, across the nation in all sectors of healthcare, PPE has been in short supply since the onset of COVID-19. ASC’s procurement department is working very hard to secure and maintain the proper level of PPE inventory necessary to safely care for our residents and protect our employees.
What types of education are you providing to your employees?
American Senior Communities began educating staff regarding COVID-19 from the onset of this situation. All employees are educated on infection control measures as well as how COVID-19 is transmitted. Educational posters are hung throughout the community for reference.
How are you handling issues with staffing shortages?
Our recruitment team is working diligently to ensure we maintain proper staffing levels. We also contract with staffing agencies should we need to take advantage of that option to ensure your loved one is well cared for.
How do I locate my local ombudsman?
For Indiana communities visit https://www.in.gov/
For Kentucky communities visit http://www.locate-a-ombudsman.com/KentuckyOmbudsman.html
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The ASC Cavalry, Horses of hope have been visiting the residents and team members of American Senior Communities. These horses have had the opportunity to impact the mental wellbeing of the ASC family as they travel from city to city doing window visits.
We understand the temporary visitor restrictions have been extremely difficult and emotional for everyone. Stay connected with our residents and team members and check out what they have been doing to stay positive during these times.