May 27, 2020 by Katie Perry
We have been advocating to have an expanded ability for conducting facility-wide testing along with our membership association, LeadingAge Minnesota. There have been recent announcements regarding testing for both residents and staff of long-term care facilities and congregate settings such as assisted living facilities. In consultation with the Minnesota Department of Health and our medical advisors, we support this widespread testing to help identify and be proactive in our preparedness. Without conducting testing and identifying areas of concern, it is much more difficult to prepare to respond to an invisible virus.
We believe that by conducting testing of symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals we will have a greater ability to identify any individuals who may need additional assistance and implement additional infection control precautions based on our findings. Testing will also allow us the ability to identify areas where there may be any concern and respond accordingly. Testing is an additional component of a broad-based response strategy that includes triage and clinical consultation, infection prevention control measures, resident and staff health screening among other interventions that have been in place for several weeks. All these considerations must be in place for effectively applying testing to reduce the possibility of transmission.
We are working closely to conduct testing at the Care Center, Grand Arbor and Nelson Gables with the Minnesota Department of Health and Alomere Health.
We are working closely to conduct testing of residents and staff at Grand Arbor with the Minnesota Department of Health and Alomere Health. We have developed a comprehensive plan for testing and are working to confirm dates when a base-line test will be made available as well as our process to facilitate testing. Follow-up testing will occur based on recommendations from the Minnesota Department of Health.
Consent forms are required to be obtained prior to testing. We will do this at the time of the resident and/or staff being tested. We share testing dates and the process once this is confirmed.
We understand you may be concerned about the spread of COVID-19, especially with the amount of media coverage heightening everyone’s awareness on senior living providers. We want you to know that we are doing everything we can to ensure the safety of our residents and staff. This has always been our priority and will always continue to be our priority.
We have expanded access to communicate regularly with residents and their families. While each residential building operates a bit differently, we are utilizing our website, Facebook, family portals, mobile apps, email notifications and daily check-ins with residents. Keeping residents and families informed is important to us.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have updated their notification guidelines requiring nursing homes to report positive cases by 5 p.m. the next calendar day. We will follow this requirement for all of our residential facilities, including housing and the nursing home. As of today, in Alexandria:
• KN Care Center: No active cases.
• Grand Arbor: No active cases.
• Nelson Gables: No active cases.
We have a dedicated team of caregivers and staff who are working tirelessly to prevent any serious illness, including COVID-19, among our residents. They are also providing compassionate support and continuing to meet the emotional and health needs of our residents. We are taking all recommended guidance and doing everything possible to protect the health and wellness of all who live and work at Knute Nelson. While this is a challenging time for our staff, residents and their families, we are honored to stand alongside them as we continue to fight this pandemic. We recognize and thank them for their understanding, cooperation and dedication to standing with us.
Late last week, Governor Walz announced a 5 Point Plan by outlining strategies to support residents and long-term care providers. Their priority areas include:
• Expanded testing for residents and workers
• Provide testing support and troubleshooting
• Get facilities needed Personal Protective Equipment
• Ensure adequate staffing levels
• Leverage partnerships
We will continue to advocate for assistance in all areas identified above along with our membership organization, LeadingAge Minnesota. By leveraging a collective voice to advocate for additional assistance, we can have a stronger impact together. We will continue to provide updates to you to keep you informed of our ongoing work. Please note: This is a fluid situation and updates are in continuous development. Help us keep family and loved ones informed by visiting our website: https://www.knutenelson.org/covid-19-coronavirus-updates
*Health agencies providing recommendations to us include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, local medical advisors and public health advisors among others.