Blue Skies of Texas COVID 19 (Corona Virus) Independent Living Weekly Report – March 10, 2020
The following update is related to COVID 19. BST will provide weekly updates via handouts located at the front desk (East and West campus) with a focus on Independent Living. Licensed health care facilities have a separate plan, mandated by CMS and Texas Health and Human Services.
Background: The BST Influenza Preparedness and Response Plan was developed in 2009 in response to the novel influenza, H1N1. The plan was written to address potentially pandemic influenza with consideration to our senior population and medically compromised patients residing in our health care facilities. Recent events have placed greater emphasis on prevention, preparedness and response as it relates to COVID 19. The result is development of addendums to the original plan. Each week, BST will provide details related to various aspects of the plan as they affect you, the resident. This week’s focus is prevention.
Prevention. What you can do:
Hand washing is one of the most important preventative measures you can take. Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and washing frequently, is an everyday preventative action to help prevent the spread of disease. If you are unable to wash your hands with soap and water, use of hand sanitizer is an acceptable action. Not all hand sanitizers are created equal. The CDC recommends alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol.
Other actions include: Avoid close contact with people who are sick; avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes; cover your cough with a tissue (then throw it away and wash your hands) or cough into the inside of your elbow if you do not have a tissue; clean and disinfect frequently touched items in your home; avoid travel to areas with known COVID 19.
Know the signs and symptoms of COVID 19: fever, cough and shortness of breath.
Call your doctor immediately if you develop symptoms of COVID 19 or seasonal influenza.
Notify your doctor if you experience COVID 19 symptoms and if you have been in contact with a person known to have COVID 19
Notify your doctor if you develop COVID 19 symptoms and have recently traveled from an area with cases of COVID 19.
Isolate yourself from the rest of the community by remaining in your home while you and your doctor determine next steps or until it is determined you are not infected with influenza, regardless the type.
Notify BST Wellness of the situation. Wellness will assist in securing services you might require while remaining in your home. In addition to signs and symptoms, you should also notify Wellness if you have traveled to any of the affected areas. This information is critical in planning and responding to potential crisis.
People at Higher Risk: Older adults, older adults with heart disease, diabetes or lung disease, are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID 19. Next week’s report will provide guidance specifically
related to preparing your home should you need to be isolated from others. In the meantime, CDC Website has resources to help you prepare for an in-home isolation.
Prevention. What BST is doing:
As you can imagine, we’re spending a lot of time tracking information and recommendations surrounding the COVID 19 outbreak and translating it into action at BST.
The basic elements of the BST Influenza Preparedness and Response Plan are very relevant. The plan includes a four tiered alert system (Green, Yellow, Orange and Red), directing specific action based on: 1) presence of influenza outside of the United States; 2) presence of influenza inside the country; 3) presence within the Blue Skies community and finally; 4) uncontrollable or untraceable influenza within Blue Skies community. The core elements of the plan include prevention, monitoring, transmission-based precautions, reporting, staff assignments, containment, and communication. Today, we are at Yellow level.
Alert Level signs, previously limited to licensed healthcare facilities, are being printed for IL entrances and weekly leadership calls have been implemented to facilitate communication among the staff.
We’re also examining how we provide services in dining and other gathering points under current conditions. Recent changes to dining services include removal of placemats, removal of salt and pepper shakers, removal of tablecloths and spreading tables by 6 feet as able and removal of linen napkins is in process. In addition, dining services are ordering an ample supply of takeout containers should dining services be suspended in main dining locations.
Cleaning and disinfecting of common areas, with close attention to high touch surfaces, is a focus during flu season as is additional training for staff regarding infection control and influenza. Health care staff development personnel are working with independent living departments to arrange for additional training geared towards non-health care staff members. Availability of hand sanitizers throughout the community is another area of focus. BST only uses hand sanitizers meeting CDC recommendations.
Employees who are sick or exhibit signs or symptoms of influenza are prohibited from work. During this time, there is no penalty for missing work.
Evaluation of both influenza and COVID 19 activity in the surrounding community and BST will direct further action within BST as necessary. Currently there are no restrictions on move-ins, visitors or services. This could change quickly based on influenza and COVID activity in San Antonio and surrounding areas.