Mar 18th, 2020

Update on Coronavirus #2

Family Resource Home Care: Update on Coronavirus
Message 2 – March 13, 2020

Dear Clients, Family Members, and Loved Ones,

Family Resource Home Care continues to closely monitor the progression of the coronavirus pandemic. We are following the guidance put forth by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Washington State and Idaho State Departments of Health, local and county health departments and authorities. These guidelines and protocols are changing rapidly as the situation evolves. We wish to provide an update on our pro-active approach to minimize the spread of the illness while continuing to deliver quality care to our clients. Our highest priority is the health and safety of our clients, their families, and our employees.

First and foremost, we are making sure to take appropriate precautions to best care for our clients and control the spread of the virus. We’ve reminded all of our employees to follow established infection prevention procedures and take even more caution than normal with thorough hand washing, sanitizer use, disinfecting spray and wipes, and respiratory etiquette.

In accordance with recommendations provided by local, state, and federal agencies, we have updated, and reinforced protocols related to reporting symptoms and self-isolating for staff with known or suspected exposure to the virus. We are advising staff to proceed with an abundance of caution, including:
  • Not reporting to work when sick
  • Reporting suspected or known exposure to the virus to the office immediately
  • Notifying the office of clients who are symptomatic consistent with that of the virus
  • Following regulations in place for facilities, group living, or rehab environments
  • Preparing for mandated isolation/quarantine periods of up to 14 days
  • Remaining home for 72 hours following the end of symptoms, even without confirmed diagnosis or exposure to the virus
  • Planning for emergency, including back-up childcare
  • When in doubt about anything, contacting the office
We are also focusing on how we can continue to meet the needs of our clients and community. We will work with each client and family to determine the best care and service to keep you safe and healthy. To do this, our office staff is focusing on:
  • Daily monitoring of the situation in each municipality we serve
  • Prioritization of clients by fragility to ensure those who need care most will have access in the event of a workforce shortage
  • Verifying and updating client and family phone and contact lists
  • Verifying and updating staff contact lists and shift availability
  • Implementing daily messaging and updates to all staff
  • Updating HR policies and guidance related to staff access to FMLA, unemployment, paid sick leave, etc.
  • Enabling work-from-home options and office closures, as needed
  • Encouraging self-monitoring, self-reporting of symptoms, quarantine/isolation and reporting to health entities of suspected cases
  • Creating procedures to check on patients and communicate with families
  • Exploring ways to continue to provide needed services, while supporting social distancing (examples: errands such as doorstep drop-offs, shopping, prescription pick-up, check-in or companionship phone calls)
  • Establishing back-up and redundant office staffing systems, should office staff become ill
  • Following state and local guidelines regarding social distancing, avoidance, and cancellation of public outings and events.
We continue to encourage families and clients to assess their unique situation and needs and to be prepared for the unexpected. We invite you to discuss these needs with our office. Though this situation changes nearly every day, we wish to address some recent developments of possible importance to clients and families:
  • Facility and Congregate-Living Clients:
    • For clients we serve who reside in facilities or other group-type living situations, we are committed to following the new rules implemented by WA Governor Jay Inslee and to follow facility protocols, exchange of information, or other guidelines.
    • Specifically, residents of facilities are permitted to have one visitor per day. This visitor can be a caregiver, given the rules outlined here are followed: 
    • Some facilities are limiting outside caregivers. We will notify you if that is the case and invite you to do the same if your facility implements such regulations. We will attempt to provide solutions where possible.
  • Masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):
    • There is a critical shortage of face masks, respirators, gowns and other PPE for health care workers. The CDC and the WHO have advised that healthy people do not need to wear face masks. Given shortages, wearing of masks should be limited to those taking care of someone with COVID-19 coronavirus or by those with confirmed or possible infection.
    • We understand that some of you may feel safer if your caregiver wears a mask, however, the WHO has stated that masks may create a false sense of security and the more appropriate measures of defense include hand washing, not touching face, and sanitizing surfaces. Masks and PPE are often found to be the least effective infection prevention control because they are dependent on proper fit, correct, consistent use and proper disposal.
    • A hierarchy of controls may determine how personal protective equipment is distributed to healthcare entities. Currently, the guidance is to preserve and divert available supplies to hospitals that are treating those confirmed to have COVID-19. We will work with suppliers to obtain more supplies wherever possible. However, we cannot guarantee availability of masks for client care.
  • Transmission and Prevention:
    • Transmission of the virus most commonly happens during close exposure mostly by respiratory droplets emitted when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Droplets can land in mouths, noses, or eyes or be inhaled into the lungs when in close proximity.
    • Given these small aerosol particles can enter a person in a variety of ways; surgical masks may have limited efficacy for prevention.
  • Notification of suspected or confirmed cases:
    • If a staff member becomes ill and is suspected to have the coronavirus, or is diagnosed with coronavirus, we will follow the protocols established by national and local agencies to report the illness and notify those who may have come in contact with that person.
    • We also request that you notify our office of symptoms consistent with COVID-19 if clients have known or suspected exposure to the virus so that we may prevent staff and other clients from exposure.
  • Risk Evaluation:
    • We encourage each family and client to consider their own risk factors. If you have underlying health issues that could potentially make exposure to the virus deadly, you may wish to suspend home care services in order to isolate.
    • If suspending home care services could make a client extremely vulnerable to other serious health risks (falls, missed medication, or hydration/nutrition), continuing home care services might be critical. No clear guidelines exist in these circumstances and each family and client must consider their unique situation.
  • Shift Cancellations:
    • We will make every effort possible to provide our clients with safe and appropriate care and seek to avoid canceling shifts, however, we cannot guarantee this will not occur given the uncertainties about this particular situation.
    • Likewise, we anticipate you may wish to, or need to, cancel shifts or temporarily stop services. We will work with you to resume services when possible.
  • Contingency Planning:
    • We strongly recommend that our clients have alternative arrangements for the provisions of care. We encourage you to assemble support networks in your family and community and to have adequate supplies of medication and household goods on hand.
As our name says, our intent is to be a resource to our clients and family. We will keep you updated should changes to our protocol occur and we invite you to reach out to us with any specific questions.

 

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Message 1 – Sent March 2, 2020
Family Resource Home Care Response to Coronavirus

Dear Clients, Family Members, and Loved Ones,

Family Resource Home Care is actively monitoring the progression of the respiratory illness COVID-19, caused by a novel coronavirus. This situation continues to develop rapidly as new cases are identified in our communities and our protocols will be adjusted as needed. While the majority of cases of COVID-19 are mild, causing only fever and cough, a very small percentage of cases become severe and may progress to pneumonia, particularly in elderly people and people with underlying medical conditions. Given this is the primary population we serve, we understand if you have concerns. As of today, March 2, 2020, our response includes:

Our Response and Readiness:
  • We are following updates and procedures from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Washington State and Idaho Departments of Health, local and county health departments and authorities, the Home Care Association of America and other agencies and resources. We will continue to adjust our plans according to the recommendations from these organizations.
  • As a standard practice, we have an emergency preparedness plan in place. We will continue to follow it as this situation evolves or update it accordingly.
  • We are advising all caregiver staff across Washington and Idaho to follow our established protocol regarding staying home when sick. We already advise staff not to go to work if they feel ill, so this practice is not new to our staff.
  • We are in communication with caregiver staff to assess any known risk factors, such as travel to areas with widespread outbreaks or local contact in areas known to have reported cases. We will advise them not to report to work if they are deemed high-risk.
  • We believe that home remains the safest place for you or your loved one, as indications show that the virus is spread more quickly in facilities and larger groups or public settings. Possible exposure will remain the lowest for those who are able to stay in their homes or private settings within facilities and limit outside contact. For this reason, we feel fortunate to be able to provide care that can keep people at home or limited to exposure in group settings through personalized care and support.
  • For clients we serve who reside in facilities or other group-type living situations, we will work closely with the facility on any protocols, exchange of information, or other guidelines as necessary.
  • We acknowledge that many of our clients are especially at risk, given they are older adults or have underlying health issues. We are vigilant about our need to help protect these individuals from illness be it the flu, COVID-19, or any other communicable disease. These measures are not new to us as we seek to minimize risk regularly for our clients, regardless of an outbreak such as that of this new coronavirus.
Instructions for Our Staff and Caregivers:
  • Staff are instructed to follow our existing protocol, which states they are to stay home when sick. If a staff member is sick, we will remove them from the schedule and work diligently to find a healthy replacement caregiver.
  • Staff are advised to notify us of any known risk factors, such as travel to areas with widespread outbreaks or local contact in areas known to have reported cases. If a staff member is deemed to be high-risk, we will remove them from the schedule, follow the guidelines from national and local health agencies to report the risk and find replacement staffing if needed.
  • Staff are instructed to be extra vigilant in our established infection prevention measures, already in place for influenza and all other communicable diseases, which include: not reporting to work if ill; washing hands often with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer; avoiding touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands; avoiding close contact with people who are sick; covering mouths and noses with tissue if coughing or sneezing; and cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces.
  • Currently, the CDC does not recommend home-based caregivers wear masks or respirators if non-symptomatic; however, given this is an emerging issue we will adjust if needed.
  • If a staff member becomes ill and is suspected to have the coronavirus, or is diagnosed with coronavirus, we will follow the protocols established by national and local agencies to report the illness and notify those who may have come in contact with that person.
  • We will encourage caregivers to also be aware of symptoms in clients and to respond accordingly by taking infection prevention measures and notifying the office of any concerns of serious illness in a client.
  • If a client is ill with a fever or respiratory symptoms, it’s recommended the client be encouraged to see a physician for further evaluation and consider wearing a mask. 
Contingency Planning for You or Your Loved One:
  • Depending on the severity of the spread of illness in communities or the response taken by national and state authorities (ex. mandatory isolation, closure of schools, etc.), our staffing levels may be affected. As a result, we may be unable to cover all shifts. 
  • We will make every effort possible to provide our clients with safe and appropriate care and seek to avoid canceling shifts, however, we cannot guarantee this will not occur given the uncertainties about this particular situation.
  • At all times, regardless of a viral outbreak or other situation, we strongly recommend that our clients have alternative arrangements for the provisions of care in the event we are unable to provide services. We encourage you to begin considering and putting into place back-up plans now, as the severity of the spread of this illness and planned interventions is still uncertain.
What You Can Do to Protect Yourself and Your Family:
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces.
  • Eat well, drink lots of water and get rest to strengthen your immune system.
  • Have a family emergency preparedness plan that includes care coverage and back up support, if possible.
  • Stay at home and away from others if you are feeling ill.
  • If you have underlying medical issues that put you in the high-risk category, avoid large public gatherings or other places outside the home. Limit your contact with others.

 

Resources
  • Washington State Department of Health Call Center:

1-800-525-0127 and press #.

  • Guidance for Persons Who are at Higher Risk:

Resources for at-risk individuals and those with underlying medical conditions

  • Coronavirus Fact Sheet (11 languages available):

https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/NovelCoronavirusOutbreak2020/FactSheet

  • General updates from the Washington State Department of Health:

https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/Coronavirus

  • General updates from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare:

https://healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/COVID19/tabid/4664/Default.aspx

  • General updates from the CDC:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

  • If you have questions or concerns specific to your or your loved one and Family Resource, please contact your local office.

 

 About the Coronavirus and COVID-19
  • The world is experiencing an outbreak of respiratory illness (COVID-19) caused by a new coronavirus.
  • Most cases of COVID-19 are mild and cause cold or flu-like symptoms such as fever and cough.
  • Some cases are more severe, especially in those with underlying medical issues, weakened immune systems, or the elderly. These cases can result in complications like pneumonia or death.
  • Other variations of human coronaviruses include evolved strains like the SARS virus of 2003.
  • Coronavirus is spread person to person much like any cold or flu virus: through the air by coughing or sneezing, close personal contact such as touching, or by exposure to a surface with the virus on it.
  • Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and other. Symptoms may range from mild to severe.
  • Symptoms can appear in two days or up to 14 days or more after exposure.
  • The CDC is recommending people with the virus or known exposure be isolated in the hospital or at home to prevent further spread or risk of infecting others.
  • Anyone with a fever or upper respiratory infection, should be very cautious about being around others. Staying home is encouraged.
  • No known vaccine for a human-contracted coronavirus is available, making precaution and infection prevention critical.

The safety and well-being of our clients and staff are our utmost priority, now and always. We will keep you updated should changes to our protocol occur and we invite you to reach out to us with any specific questions.

 

photo courtesy: Shutterstock

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