Update from Administrator – May 1, 2020
I hope this finds you all safe and healthy. Thanks again for all the support you have shown the staff at Northwood. We appreciate your patience with this stressful situation.
Our phone lines and internet went down this morning, which does not impact our ability to call out in an emergency, but does impact people trying to call in. We were able to get our internet service reconnected just after Noon, but are waiting for a technician to arrive to fix the phone lines. With many communications issues over the last few weeks, I just wanted you to know this is a technical issue and we are working to resolve it as quickly as possible.
This pandemic has been an incredibly challenging time, and we are working every day to ensure that we provide the safest possible care for our patients. At the start of the pandemic, Northwood initiated, sometimes at the direction of the Department of Public Health, a series of protections aimed at mitigating the threat of coronavirus at our center. These included restricting visitors to our buildings, dramatically increasing the cleaning and infection control measures, taking the temperature of anyone who entered the facility, and increasing the monitoring of all residents at every shift. We conveyed this in weekly email messages to be as transparent as possible, given the state directed visitor restrictions in place.
As you know, this virus has impacted nursing homes at a disproportionately high rate. In Massachusetts, patients and staff have tested positive in 313 centers as of the 29th, which is 82%. As centers begin to test the patients with no symptoms, like we did early on, they are finding more and more of their patients and staff are positive. All our patients have been tested and have requested the National Guard test our remaining staff, even though there are no staff displaying symptoms. You may recall that when the Guard first came to Northwood, they would not test staff, and would only test patients if they were displaying signs and symptoms.
We currently have 75 patients that have tested positive for Covid-19, and five negative at Northwood, and we have lost some more patients that had tested positive for the virus. When the Guard was unwilling to test our staff, and would only test the patients with signs and symptoms, we began sending any staff with signs and symptoms to places to have them tested, and with the help of our Medical Director were able to get tests for all of our patients. A total of 24 staff have tested positive, but 15 of them are back with us and considered recovered.
Our Therapy and Activity Departments are trying to get residents out of the facility for some fresh air. As the weather improves, we hope we will be able to do much more of this. I know you probably would like to visit when they are going to be out, but we can’t do that at this point.
In accordance with guidance from the state Department of Public Health, we are moving patients with positive results together on the same units to the extent possible. I know how disturbing this is to those of you that have become familiar with the unit your loved one resides on, but moving people together was the guidance we received. We have re-deployed staff to try and keep your loved one seeing familiar faces to the extent that people can be recognized in protective gear.
On a positive note, we are close to having several of the many positive patients reach the point where they will be listed as having recovered from COVID-19, and that number is going to grow significantly in the weeks ahead.
We continue to be in daily touch with the Department of Public Health and our local Health Department. We also are following all CDC and state guidelines, and receive regular updates on new guidelines that are offered. This information is shared with our staff and additional training is continually taking place. It probably goes without saying that more and more is being learned about COVID-19 every day, and we do our best to keep up with it all.
We truly understand how difficult this situation is and how isolated you must feel from your loved one. Our team wants you to know we are doing all we can to keep our residents healthy and safe.