Protecting residents and staff: It’s inherent in the Blue Skies culture

During the novel coronavirus pandemic, Wendy Carpenter, Chief Health Services Officer, talked to the Courier about the safety and health precautions the Blue Skies staff practices every day to protect the residents and staff from contagions. These procedures guided Blue Skies through the heightened social safety measures brought on by COVID-19.

“First and foremost,” Wendy said, “every single member of our staff – not just nursing, but housekeeping, food service and maintenance – approaches every task with a clear understanding of universal infection control precautions.”

Blue Skies health care staff is particularly trained in infection control to protect vulnerable residents.  “We know how to respond – washing hands, wearing gloves and protective gear, and using scientific criteria to identify infection.  In this amplified alert, all staff and residents are monitored daily for any symptoms,” she noted.

Specific protocols are in place to ensure safety at all times. Facilities are cleaned and disinfected routinely. Maintenance staff regularly changes out air filters and monitors the safety of the water supply. Food service safety is guided by strict protocols, including washing dishes at high temperatures. When a resident is discharged from any health care facility, the space is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.

“Whether it’s seasonal flu, infections or COVID-19, everything we practice daily is focused on infection control.  Our residents know that and feel safe here,” she said.

During the pandemic, Blue Skies shut down group activities and immediately put an action plan into place to further protect residents.  Travelers and new residents went into self-quarantine.  Visitors were not allowed on campus.  Meals were delivered rather than shared in community. All staff and health care residents were masked. CDC guidelines are enforced.

“Surveyors from the State of Texas reviewed our infection control and San Antonio Metro Health visited the household we set aside at The Mission (skilled nursing) to care for any residents who may test positive with COVID-19 but do not require hospitalization,” Wendy noted.  “We welcome this collaboration. They gave us high marks for our preparedness and risk reduction protocols.”

“Further, concern for health care residents who are at risk for depression and other mental health issues in these anxious times has led us to create activities that keep them occupied, happy and connected,” Wendy said.  “At Liberty House (assisted living), an ice cream trolley roamS the hallways bringing wrapped treats to residents.  At The Mission, they play bingo – residents in their doorways, a safe distance apart, while an activities director callS out the numbers.  Spouses visit loved ones in health care through windows, Skype and Facetime.  Neighbors still watched out for each other. Our culture is truly a model for perilous times,” Wendy said.