As guidance from the White House lags behind official recommendations, cities and states are making their own moves to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Many large businesses have taken initiative as well. Commuicare Health Services, which operates a number of nursing homes in the DMV, has made the decision to close its facilities to almost all visitors.
With some of the most vulnerable patients under their care, nursing homes around the country have been on high alert. The first major COVID-19 reports and deaths took place in a Washington nursing home that failed to properly quarantine residents despite being warned about the dangers of the novel coronavirus. The facility is now home to a “cluster” of infections: 30 residents and 46 employees tested positive as of Monday, March 16th, and 29 deaths have been linked with the facility.
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Communicare, in an effort to prevent similar outbreaks in its facilities across the country, has now closed doors to all visitors except the family members of those in hospice care. News 4 reported on the change from Mt. Vernon healthcare center, which has over 100 patients. One carrier could kick off a quick-spreading infection that would affect residents and staff, causing increased care needs while cutting into the pool of available nurses.
Because the pandemic is still expanding in the U.S., and the situation changing daily, Communicare does not yet know when this policy might lift. In the meantime, they are providing phone and email updates and encouraging families to use technologies like FaceTime to connect with those in residence. This is good advice for anyone whose loved one is in an inpatient care facility, regardless of whether it has banned visitors. Because some carriers of the novel coronavirus do not show symptoms for up to 2 weeks after contracting it and others do not get sick at all, even people who feel fine could unknowingly transmit a virus to an at-risk loved one.
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In accordance with government recommendations to avoid gatherings of 10 or more people and maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others, Ashcraft & Gerel has instructed employees to work remotely until further notice. We remain available via phone, e-mail, and chat—but we are suspending all in-person meetings both for your safety and ours.
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As a team that’s always held compassion for the oldest members of our society, we are continuing to monitor the situation in nursing homes so we can keep you updated as well. We are thankful to the facilities like Communicare, who are doing the right thing by isolating patients as much as possible; to the healthcare workers everywhere who are putting their lives on the line to care for the ill; and to everyone who has taken the advice to enforce social distance whenever possible. Together, we can do our part to keep our most vulnerable communities safe.