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Montgomery Place responds to questions during this time of COVID-19

Residents and Families,

Today has been a difficult day. For the last month, I have known the reality that COVID-19 would penetrate Montgomery Place. Our first case was on April 7, with several more following in the last few days.

We always regarded the higher risk residents in skilled nursing care and assisted living were more likely to contract the virus due to the level of interactions for their care and their existing compromised health conditions. Our goal remained to keep the virus from independent living residents.

Today, we share that one independent living resident was diagnosed with COVID-19. This person, who currently is in the hospital, is stable.

This news creates a higher level of anxiety because the threat now is much “closer to home.” So, please allow me to share a variety of points with you as we discuss this topic.

 1.    Will a resident with the virus stay at or return to Montgomery Place? 

Yes, because Montgomery Place is this person’s home. According to CDC guidelines and protocols, COVID-19 positive patients are encouraged to recuperate at home. As long as individuals can care for themselves, being quarantined at home is appropriate. 

 Here at Montgomery Place, our nursing teams can check in on an independent living resident. With our delivery of nearly all services—meals, incidentals, mail, library books and even wine and cheese—there can be no better place to recuperate. Quarantine, however, is always required.

 2.    How do I keep it out of my apartment when it’s “just down the hall?”  

We have been practicing the many new skills during the last four weeks: social distancing, isolation, limited contact, masks, gloves, hand washing and more. We need to continue to do so.  

 We now require residents to wear a face mask each time they open their door. Also, each time you venture out of your apartment to the gardens for a walk, wear a face mask. Always wear a mask. One was given to every resident today. Staff also ask residents to “put on your face mask” before any service.

 3.    Why is limiting hand-to-hand contact so important? We love to serve! But we realize that every contact point is a risk. So we are looking to decrease a few contact points as we move forward. They will include, but may not be limited to:

a.    Residents answering the door: While many residents are accustomed to just leaving their doors open or calling out “come in,” management now is limiting staff interaction to the hallway (with a few exceptions to be discussed below). Come answer your door! Staff is not allowed to enter your apartment for deliveries.

b.    No-touch deliveries: Just like many drive-through foodservice locations, we are now limiting handing packages directly to residents. Instead, we are using carts for deliveries for packages and mail. We ask residents to take their items from the carts, reducing hand-to-hand contact. We will continue to make deliveries, but with much less hand-holding.

 4.    Let’s look at this statistically: News media is not doing us any favors by sensationalizing extreme cases and deaths associated with COVID-19. While I am not trivializing these critical, life-shattering personal events as simple statistics, I do think and feel it is important to look at the impact of this virus from a broader world-wide perspective.

a.    50% of people who have the virus never have any symptoms. In this group, most may never know they were positive. They are likely our biggest risk because they can be carriers.

b.    30% of people with the virus have mild symptoms. Maybe a cough, fatigue, scratchy throat and, possibly, a fever that never really slows them down.

c.    15 to 18% of COVID-19 positive people experience an increased risk of more severe symptoms. Some require hospitalization but generally not the support of a ventilator. This cohort is generally older and often has co-morbidities.

d.    2 to 5% of people diagnosed die. They often become the top stories for outlets. They comprise the smallest sector of those touched by COVID-19. Yes, it is a difficult reality. No one wants to die. 

5.    So what happens if I get COVID-19? Initially, we will assist you by  communicating with your physician. Your doctor will order testing, and we now can administer it right here at Montgomery Place and arrange for swabs to be delivered to a lab. 

You will be the first to learn your test results. You then decide who else learns about your results. You can guide your treatment plan. You can decide if you want to go to a hospital should your symptoms increase.

But rest assured, we will do all we can to assist in your care in your home. That means in your apartment.  

 6.    What if I become more acutely ill? You will be transferred to a hospital, if you chose. Once stabilized, you can return to Montgomery Place as you continue to recuperate.

 7.    If I get COVID-19 do I have to move to skilled nursing care? No, not necessarily. Most likely, we will support your recovery as you continue to live in the comfort of your apartment. 

 Should you require hospitalization, however, you might then return to skilled nursing for rehabilitation care.

 I hope I have provided answers to some of your questions. As was pointed out in a recent newscast about another premier retirement community in Chicago with “a reputation for being one of the best in the senior living sector and has been constantly in contact with residents and families, even while following strict CDC guidelines, the virus made its entry.” 

 At Montgomery Place we, too, are following all the CDC guidelines. We are instituting every creative idea we can think of to contain the spread of this virus.  

 In our assisted living on the third floor of the healthcare wing, we have had no new cases. Monitoring continues to watch not only for traditional symptoms, but also for changes in behavior and changes in daily patterns. As we can, testing for assisted living residents will continue.

In our skilled nursing care wing on the second floor, our isolation unit is separated by a temporary “zip wall” made of a heavy plastic. Staff is dedicated to this unit to reduce interactions. We are conducting COVID-19 swabs on all patients there tonight. They will be tested at a lab on Wednesday.

We are working with the UC Medicine and several other sources to secure testing for employees. As this resource is just becoming available, it is taking a bit more time, and we will keep all informed of our progress. We also are seeking options so we can test all independent living residents, but this process also is taking time to secure.

Most likely, this information will prompt more questions. Please do not hesitate to send me notes so I can respond to your specific questions. And if you prefer to talk, call my mobile phone, 773-617-1317, at any time. Your questions, suggestions and comments will guide what to address in some of my future posts.

 Together, we continue our fight.

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