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Crest Haven’s COVID-19 Free, Credits Early Decisions

Long-term care facilities across the state now are required to have all residents and staff tested for COVID-19 by May 26

By Karen Knight

To access the Herald’s local coronavirus/COVID-19 coverage, click here.
COURT HOUSE – While more than 520 long-term care facilities across the state are reporting positive cases of COVID-19 and related deaths, the Crest Haven Nursing and Rehabilitation Center has not had any residents or staff test positive for the disease, as of May 14.
The credit, according to the center’s administrator, belongs to decisions made early to close to visitors and new admissions, daily health screening of employees and visitors, checking the staff’s health daily, and early medical interventions with physicians to prevent hospitalization or emergency room visits.
The precautions and procedures also allow the facility to meet a new executive directive (No. 20-013), regarding testing and outbreak response plans now required by the state’s Department of Health by the end of May. The directive impacts all licensed long-term care facilities, assisted living residences, comprehensive personal care homes, residential health care facilities and dementia care homes.
These plans must be customized to the facility, be based on national standards, and address isolation and cohorting of infected and at-risk individuals. They also must address staffing, future screening and testing, and communicating with family, residents and staff. They are due to the state May 19 and must be implemented by May 26.
The state is also requiring all residents and staff to be tested for COVID-19 by May 26, and retested if negative within a week.
Administrator Jennifer Hess said Crest Haven was closed to visitors several days before President Donald Trump recommended it nationwide.
“We closed to new admissions March 23, which is why the census numbers are down,” Hess said. “Both decisions were made by Freeholder Jeff Pierson, the liaison of the Freeholder Board to Crest Haven, in coordination with Freeholder Gerald Thornton.”
The facility has 95 residents and 178 employees. It is licensed as 180 beds, but operates as 120, according to the administrator.
“All of our rehab patients graduated and returned to their homes, bringing our census down a bit,” she noted.
Hess said the facility began screening employees and visitors daily early.
“Staff with any signs and symptoms are home-quarantined for 14 days and tested for COVID-19,” she said. “They are called daily for a health check. All symptoms must be cleared and a negative COVID-19 test obtained prior to returning to work. Many have been tested twice before being permitted to return.”
Staff at other facilities, vendors, and services were also restricted from the building early.
“We draw our own labs and give them to the lab driver for delivery,” she explained. “X-ray staff are health-screened, equipment disinfected outside and fully outfitted in masks, gowns and booties before being allowed in the facility.”
Residents are monitored three times a day for signs and symptoms of COVID-19, according to Hess.
“We implemented early medical interventions, in coordination with our physicians, to prevent the hospitalization or ER visits,” she said. “Any resident with exposure to a hospital setting is quarantined for 14 days, monitored for signs of COVID-19, and tested before returning to their home.”
“Non-emergent healthcare visits are conducted by telehealth or rescheduled for a later date, in cooperation with our physicians and consultants,” Hess added. “Our residents were educated on coronavirus, handwashing and the wearing of masks.”
Hess also noted the center has a “good supply” of personal protective equipment (PPE), hand sanitizer and disinfectants. The “hardest” supplies to obtain are N95 masks and isolation gowns.
“All our staff wear surgical masks while on duty,” the center administrator said. “Our direct care staff wear masks and face shields to give an extra layer of protection for our residents. Full PPE, including N95, is worn for any aerosolizing procedures, such as nebulizing treatments or suctioning.”
The staff began using a disinfectant fogger for “extra” infection control intervention in any quarantine areas, sick rooms, and shower rooms.
“We’re doing all that we can to keep our residents and staff safe and well,” Hess said.
Thus far, the center’s staffing needs also have been met. “We have worked with our staff who have needed to be home for childcare/home school needs,” Hess said. “While it isn’t always easy, throughout this all, our staff has been wonderful in working together to cover our staffing needs. They are truly dedicated to the health and welfare of our residents. We also have a few agency staff who have dedicated their time to working with Crest Haven exclusively and have been a big help, as well.
“We continuously share information with staff and reinforce best practices for infection control at home and work,” Hess added. “Our staff take great pride in being COVID free.”
To contact Karen Knight, email kknight@cmcherald.com.

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