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Foertsch said St. Gerard’s too close to South Dakota and Minnesota not to take some precautions

St. Gerard's Community of Care will limit visitors to safeguard residents from coronavirus

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St. Gerard’s Community of Care management met Wednesday, March 12 and decided to limit visitors.

“We are being encouraged to do so,” said Administrator Jill Foertsch. “We don’t want to cause panic or undue hardship but we need to be realistic and proactive. We are too close to South Dakota and Minnesota not to do anything.”

This is a letter being sent out to families:

The current COVID-19 outbreak across the U.S. and worldwide has us all on high alert. Protecting our residents’ health and safety is our top priority. Our goal is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and stop it from entering our building. Because of this, St. Gerard’s Community of Care is following the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recommendations by limiting and restricting visitation rights for all, including family and visitors. These restrictions are being placed to prevent community-associated infection and communicable disease transmission to our residents and childcare.

So, what does this mean to family members of those with a loved one at St. Gerard’s?

• Family visits will be allowed only during situations where there are significant issues.

• Visits from friends and members of the general community are not allowed.

• Any family who does need to visit will be screened before being allowed past the front entry and will be required to wash their hands.

• If family members are allowed access, their loved one will be brought down to a designated visiting area. Movement within the facility will be limited.

• Front entrance will be monitored by staff during daytime hours Monday through Friday.

• Front entrance will be locked each day at 4:30 p.m. and on weekends. Anyone wanting to gain entrance during these hours will need to use the doorbell or buzzer at the front entrance.

We all greatly appreciate your cooperation and consideration during this time, and we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Please remember that these actions are in hopes to keep all our residents safe and healthy. Much consideration and thought went into this decision.

St. Gerard’s will also be eliminating any activities that involve having members of the community come into our home. All employees will be screened each time they come to work prior to their shift starting. Any work or visits from outside vendors will be delayed if possible. And if unable to be postponed, those vendors will also need to be screened prior to them spending any length of time within St. Gerard’s. All movements within St. Gerard’s will be limited. Childcare and preschool will function under normal measures. We only ask that those dropping off or picking up children be without fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, etc.

Our management team is in close contact with the North Dakota Department of Health, CMS, North Dakota Long Term Care Association and other agencies guiding us through this event. We will continue to share this information with our residents, staff, families and others. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us. We truly want to work through this together.

Below are just some reminders that had been included in the first letter that was sent out on March 5.

COVID-19 is much like other influenzas in that it is mainly spread through respiratory droplets between people in close contact within 6 feet. Symptoms are fever, cough, sore throat, aches and shortness of breath. There is currently no vaccine or antiviral medication to treat COVID-19. Clinical management includes supportive care and implementation of infection prevention and control measures. The top best practice possible to curb any viral illness from becoming widespread is adequate hand hygiene. This includes frequent washing of hands with soap and water and the use of alcohol-based hand rub when hands are not visibly soiled.

Our state health department listed the following as best practice: People should practice general respiratory prevention as it is cold and flu season and not only with the new virus (COVID-19) but the influenza virus that is still running its course through our country and looks as though could continue to affect us until late May 2020.

General respiratory prevention includes:

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

• Stay home when you are sick.

• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. (then wash your hands)

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

• Be current on all immunizations to stay healthy, including influenza vaccine.

You can also visit this web site for any additional information on COVID-19 https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019ncov/.html

God Bless,

Jill Foertsch, Administrator

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