July 9, 2020
COVID-19 Update Letter
Greetings Family & Friends~
As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 landscape as a health care provider and as an employer, we want to reassure you that we take our infection prevention and control obligations very seriously. We are regularly reviewing and updating ourselves on the most current guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the California Department of Public Health, as related to the management of COVID-19 in the skilled nursing setting. Likewise, we continue to partner with the San Diego County of Public Health as we work diligently to implement all appropriate interventions designed to protect and promote the health and well-being of our VPAC family.
As you are aware, our Facility was hit early and hard by COVID-19, affecting staff and residents as per our prior communications with you. Our initial outbreak occurred on March 22, 2020, and the team at VPAC immediately mobilized in response. After almost two months, during which our staff delivered recovery-based treatment and committed to managing the spread of infection, our status as an outbreak Facility was officially lifted on May 15, 2020. We also would like to share that we have not had a resident or staff member test positive for COVID-19 in the Facility since May 1. While I know the media was quick to report on VPAC during our most challenging times, I note that there has been little attention to VPAC’s recovery efforts/results and return to baseline – they say good news doesn’t make the news, and I am now inclined to believe that.
Also by way of update, we want to share with you that we have been identified as one of the few facilities in San Diego County who are appropriate to admit and treat COVID-19 positive residents from the hospital and the community. We have received this designation as a result of our robust infection prevention practices and protocols, all of which have been vetted by both San Diego County and the California Department of Public Health. What we have developed and implemented to address this insidious virus is effective, and we consider it a privilege to serve this particular subset of patients who require this specialized level of medical attention.
Going forward, however, and as we continue to share weekly updates with you on the COVID-19 situation at the Facility, we ask you to keep the above designation in mind. Specifically, and because we are affirmatively admitting COVID-19 positive patients, the cumulative number of positive patients in house will be inflated as compared to facilities who are not accepting these patients. Similarly, it is likely that the number of patients who end up passing away following a diagnosis of COVID-19 will be higher since a percentage of the individuals we admit with COVID-19 are not appropriate for recovery-based care and are placed on hospice on/after arrival.
As far as testing is concerned, Governor Newsom recently ordered that 100% of the residents and healthcare providers in skilled nursing facilities across California be tested for the presence of the COVID-19 virus. We are prepared to fully cooperate with this effort, and welcome the opportunity to participate in the universal testing. Up to this point in time, our symptomatic residents have been immediately tested, and isolated in an area away from the asymptomatic patients pending results; further, symptomatic staff are not permitted to work or enter the Facility, and are immediately referred for testing as well. These same practices will continue going forward, without exception, in addition to what the Governor has ordered.
The Facility will also continue to implement our comprehensive infection prevention and control program and related interventions, which include but are not limited to the following:
- Frequent handwashing
- Frequent use of hand sanitizer
- All staff are wearing masks from the time of entry into the Facility through the time they depart at the end of their shift
- Staff are using full personal protective equipment when caring for known or suspected COVID-19 positive residents
- Staff and essential medical professionals are assessed and screened prior to entering the Facility; if they present with any sign or symptom of illness, they will be sent home
- COVID-19 positive residents are cohorted and separated from those residents who are not presumed or confirmed COVID-19 positive; these COVID positive residents are receiving care as per their care plan, under the guidance and direction of their attending physician and in partnership with the Facility Medical Director.
We are laser focused on infection control, and are committed to taking all appropriate actions available to us to protect our residents and staff from the adverse effects of the virus.
We thank you for your unwavering support during this difficult period in our history, and we welcome any questions or concerns you might have.