As the coronavirus continues to spread around the world and the amount of cases in the U.S. rises to over 1,000, senior living communities have had to come up with plans to keep their residents safe.
Several senior living centers in Bloomington have restricted visitors and increased visitor screening to avoid any potential spread of the virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, older adults and people who have serious chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and lung disease are at a higher risk of getting very sick from the coronavirus.
Visiting hours are now from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Bell Trace Senior Living Community. The center is limiting all outside visitors with exception to rare circumstances, according to its website. Those rare circumstances include immediate family members at Bell Trace in end-of-life situations or when it is necessary for a resident to see someone for medical assistance, such as a family member bringing a medication refill.
There are no known cases of the coronavirus in the Bell Trace community as of Thursday, according to the community’s website.
Those who come to visit will be heavily screened before seeing residents. Bell Trace medical staff members will test potential visitors for respiratory issues and a temperature. Visitors will also be asked if they have been in contact with someone with COVID-19, traveled outside the U.S. within the last 14 days or resided in a community where the virus has been spreading. The person will also be asked to wash their hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer when entering the building.
The center’s website states it’s operating under guidelines from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
“Everyone needs to be concerned about it,” Bell Trace resident Karen Stucky said. “We’re just trying to be proactive.”
Stucky said she and her husband live in a cottage outside the main building at Bell Trace, and as of Thursday morning they hadn’t been informed whether the visitor restrictions affect them. People are restricted from going into the main building. Events, exercise classes and social hours have been canceled.
Pat Shidler and her husband live in the main building at Bell Trace. Shidler said she feels very pleased by how proactive the staff has been. The staff has kept them updated on the new protocol and have helped them get groceries and plan activities for residents.
Residents who leave the community for non-medical reasons will not be allowed to return until restrictions have been lifted, according to the center’s website.
Brookdale Bloomington assisted living facility has also restricted visitations, but not to the same extent as Bell Trace.
Lola Hayes, Brookdale health and wellness director, said the center is trying to keep more cleaning supplies on hand. They’re putting more rubbing alcohol out for visitors to wash their hands with and asking visitors not to come if they’re sick or have recently traveled outside the U.S. If visitors clear those restrictions, they’re still allowed to visit.
Both Meadowood Retirement Community and Gentry Park Senior Living have been keeping a close eye on updates and information provided by the CDC, according to press releases on their websites. A representative from Meadowood could not be reached for comment Thursday on whether there are any cases of the coronavirus at the center.
Gentry Park residents and their family members have been given letters that outline information on the coronavirus and how to avoid getting sick, including to be vigilant about hand-washing and covering your face when you cough or sneeze. There are no cases of coronavirus at Gentry Park as of now, according to Robyn Frankel, a representative from Gentry Park.
“The safety, security, health and well-being of all residents and staff in our community is our first priority,” said Todd Nowacki, executive director of Gentry Park Senior Living, in a press release. “We have a sincere and heartfelt commitment to take whatever steps may be necessary to ensure the safety and security of everyone who lives in, works at or visits our community.”
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