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Dear Residents and Team Members,
It has been more than four months since coronavirus and COVID-19 became part of our every-day conversations. For many, the initial adrenaline, fear and excitement have given way to anxiety and fatigue. In these challenging times we continue to experience hope through inspiring moments.
My purpose in writing today is to bring you up to date on how ECS continues to respond to the COVID-19 crisis and how that response is shaped by what we have learned and continue to learn about the virus.
When the virus first landed on the West Coast in Washington State, we did not understand how serious it was and how challenging it would become. Today, mitigating the spread of COVID-19 is our organizing principle. Our whole team begins work every day knowing that keeping everyone safe is Job #1.
In early March, ECS was not fully stocked with a pandemic level of personal protective equipment or food supplies. Our orders for food and protective equipment were not filled or were diverted to the military and hospitals. Through sharing of supplies and concentrated purchasing efforts, today all of our communities are reliably supplied with a margin of safety.
In the beginning, we didn’t know what all the symptoms of COVID-19 were. The CDC had provided a very short list. To obtain a coronavirus test required a doctor’s order based on symptoms. Today, we test all staff members on a regular basis, as well as offer and encourage resident testing. Most test results are now received within 24 to 48 hours.
Common sense has dictated for over a hundred years that we wear masks as part of our defense against infectious diseases. It is no surprise that we are reminded of the positive benefits of simple precautions such as wearing masks, washing our hands and maintaining appropriate physical distance. By adhering rigorously to these precautions, we can look forward to more interaction and connection with neighbors, friends and family.
We once thought that a coronavirus diagnosis meant hospitalization, but we find that by having an effective COVID-19 isolation plan we can safely accommodate most residents without requiring a dangerous trip to a hospital.
We work daily to make life more palatable for residents by taking steps like creating outdoor spaces for visits with friends and family, implementing communication tools enabling audio-visual connection, and supporting neighborhood organizational efforts/campaigns. We bring this up in every staff meeting.
However, there is no substitute for our wonderful communities and the caring expressed by and to each other. During this time of isolation and separation, residents and staff are reaching out on a regular basis, looking out for each other. This is the value of living in community.
Each of you has done your part, either by creating or participating in fun exercises like the Memorial Day paper airplane contests or the wonderful ukulele orchestra that accompanies residents singing from balconies. Some of the fun innovations will probably become part of routine life in our communities.
It seems, though, that we take two steps forward and then one step back as with the governor’s message yesterday closing a number of public areas. One thing is for certain – this invisible enemy uses our love, kindness and resulting need for physical closeness against us. So now, we have to slow down our plans to safely open beauty salons and gyms; however, we are prepared to quickly reinstate those plans when possible.
What we all have done together has worked and likely saved lives, but we cannot become complacent.
This summer and fall will have their own sets of challenges and complications, and I want to thank all residents and team members in advance. You have worked tirelessly and diligently, often under very trying circumstances, to keep everyone safe. None of you volunteered for this. And yet you have made all our lives more tolerable by your patience, your understanding, and your continued positive attitudes.
One day, we will look back on this time, and we will see heroes and role models, friends and colleagues who stood together in the face of uncertainty and hardship.
Stay safe, stay strong and may God continue to bless us all.
James S. Rothrock
President & CEO
It’s safer to stay at home. COVID-19 has not changed. – Dr. Barbara Ferrer, May 10, 2020
With many businesses reopening and more people out and about, it would appear conditions in Southern California are improving. The news, however, paints an all but certain picture.
Last Sunday the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which governments rely on for projections of where the pandemic is going, increased the projected number of deaths in California through August to 6,086. That’s an increase to the original projection of 1,420.
On Monday Governor Newsom announced that 70% of California’s economy had reopened, and L.A. County reported that daily new cases and deaths were below the seven-day averages. And yet on Tuesday, L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer announced a three-month extension of safer-at-home orders. It’s very confusing, as you can see.
What is certain, though, is that COVID-19 has disproportionately affected people 65 years of age and older, with L.A. and Orange counties reporting 75% and 70% respectively of total COVID-19-related deaths coming from that group.
Absent a vaccine and/or medication to treat the disease, the most effective defense we have is testing. Testing provides a snapshot of where we are at the moment, identifies asymptomatic carriers, and informs our decisions regarding the reintroduction of services and programs. But test results are not always accurate and should not provide a false sense of security. Furthermore, testing does not prevent someone from immediately contracting the virus after receiving a test.
As you know, ECS has done lots of testing on its campuses. We will continue to test staff members, and I hope that every one of you will take advantage of the opportunities to be tested when they are available. To date, the tests have identified four non-symptomatic COVID-19-positive team members and agency staff, who, without those tests and through no fault of their own, would have continued to work, potentially spreading the virus to residents and fellow team members. We are monitoring these team members and praying for their safe return to work.
We are truly in this together, and though some decisions are mandated by regulatory agencies, many come about through collaboration with residents and team members. In our weekly resident leadership Zoom meetings, we discuss the latest guidance and gain insight into specific issues affecting resident life. We know you want this to be over. We all do. For now, the most powerful tool we have is to be tested.
Fatigue is a natural consequence of isolation and anxiety, and I am so sorry you’re having to go through what you’re going through. I encourage you, though, to remember the words of Francis of Assisi – Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.
James S. Rothrock
President & CEO
In fierce storms we must do one thing…we must put the ship in a certain position and keep her there. – old seaman
Although we receive additional information every day, and sometimes minute by minute, two activities continue to provide the best defense against the coronavirus – maintaining a distance of six feet from others and washing our hands after touching any surface that may have been exposed to the virus. As in a fierce storm, we must stay the course by maintaining these vital preventive measures throughout the crisis.
We all see how the numbers go up every day. Reality says that this virus will touch us. Already we have had one employee test positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. I am happy to report, this employee is at home recovering and seems to be doing well. But this is not likely our last case.
Over the past weeks, we have worked to limit the transmission of the virus while at the same time preparing for potential cases within our communities. We have sought to explain the actions taking place to contain the spread of the virus and to care for those affected by it through the Frequently Asked Questions, updates on the ecsforseniors.org website, and printed sheets placed under residents’ doors, near timeclocks and throughout our communities.
While your safety is our paramount concern, so, too, is your mental and overall physical health. The need to have mental stimulation and, frankly, fun doesn’t go away because of an out-of-control virus.
Life Enrichment departments continue to advance new virtual programs –fitness, cooking, education, and worship. If you haven’t already explored these opportunities, please do. They can help turn this time of social remoteness into a time of growth. And, if you need assistance connecting with loved ones and friends, please contact your Life Enrichment department. Six months ago, few of us were aware of Zoom. Today people across America are using it to have birthday parties, family reunions, and to spend meaningful time with loved ones. We can help you with that. Let’s work together to find the positive in this sad and chaotic situation.
Finally, I thank each of you for your personal contribution to the safety and well-being of not only yourselves, but those around you. The seas are rough! But stay the course, and eventually they will calm.
Please take a moment to view a caring, compassionate and encouraging message from the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, the Rt. Rev. John H. Taylor to the ECS family.
James S. Rothrock
President & CEO
Our residents and team members understand the importance of their roles within the community to protect themselves and each other. We continue our vigilance in following precautions to prevent the transmission and spread of COVID-19. In addition to washing hands frequently, wearing masks, and keeping a physical distance from others, our community continues the following protocols to keep themselves and others safe.
Our residents and team members understand the importance of their roles within the community to protect themselves and each other. We continue our vigilance in following precautions to prevent the transmission and spread of COVID-19. In addition to washing hands frequently, wearing masks, and keeping a physical distance from others, our community continues the following protocols to keep themselves and others safe:
Community Entrance: Entrances to ECS communities are limited to a single point of entry to allow for health screening, including a temperature check, for everyone who enters and exits the building.
Our Commitment to Cleanliness: In our everyday cleaning, ECS Communities, uses the highest classification of disinfectants recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization to treat known pathogens.
Surface Areas: In public spaces, we have used hospital-grade disinfectants, which is done with increased frequency. In our residences, our communities have added to its detailed cleaning practices, requiring all surfaces to be thoroughly cleaned with hospital-grade disinfectants.
Resident, Team Member, and Guest Contact: To help alleviate the risk of COVID-19 transmission through person-to-person contact, we have placed signage throughout each campus to remind everyone to maintain physical distancing protocols and have removed or re-arranged furniture to allow more space for distancing. We also have placed additional hand sanitizer stations throughout each campus.
Episcopal Communities & Services has adopted an aggressive approach in our fight against COVID-19. Testing provides us with valuable information to keep our residents and team members safe. While these results only represent a snapshot in time, it does allow us to identify individuals who do not present any symptoms and might otherwise go undetected.
We are fortunate to have excellent resources to aide us in this approach, which allow us to proactively test our residents and team members under the following schedule onsite at the Life Plan Community in which they work and live:
*These frequencies may increase at any given time.
If a resident or team member tests positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), a community health bulletin is issued to inform the ECS community affected. In addition to rigorous testing, residents and team members are monitored for symptoms on an ongoing basis. They may also be placed on quarantine and require testing following a hospital stay, international or domestic travel using mass transportation, if they are a new resident, or had high exposure to an individual that tests positive for COVID-19.
Any resident or team member that tests positive will self-isolate for at least 14 days and will need two negative tests conducted at least 24 hours apart before being removed from isolation. Contact tracing is conducted in all positive COVID-19 cases and any resident or team member identified with having significant exposure will also self-isolate for at least 14 days and will need two negative tests conducted at least 24 hours apart before being removed from isolation.
Each community has a separate area on campus with designated team members for any resident to use if they need care in isolation as a result of COVID-19. This area contains its own supply room and showers for use by the dedicated heroes in the COVID unit.
A private caregiver at The Covington has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, during this week’s testing. This person was without symptoms and last on campus on October 7. This person will self-isolate for at least 14 days and will not return to work until after receiving two consecutive negative test results administered at least 24 hours apart.
Contact tracing is complete and since this private caregiver only worked with one resident, there was no significant exposure to other residents or team members. The resident will self-isolate for at least 14 days and will be retested during this time.
All other team members of The Covington that tested this week received negative results. Residents of The Covington will be offered the opportunity to test on October 14 and are strongly encouraged to participate.
Along with testing, using the precautions available including wearing a mask, washing your hands and maintaining physical distance from others continues to be our best strategies to protect yourself and others.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Sharon Pewtress, COVID-19 Communications Director at firstname.lastname@example.org or 626-476-2647.
Please refer to these organizations for the latest public health information in the regions we serve.
As it has always been, the safety and security of our residents, team members, and their families remains our highest priority. We are closely monitoring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization’s statements regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and following guidelines from these agencies and the local health departments.