By LINDA WOODLAND
As the threat of the coronavirus creeps closer, Fostoria care facilities are being proactive to protect the most vulnerable population — their residents.
“We’ve been watching what’s been going on locally. We’ve been watching what’s going on nationally with the situation and we’ve been monitoring and planning,” Chris Widman, executive director of Good Shepherd Home, said.
Widman said the finishing touches were being put on the home’s plan to protect its residents and one of the first changes there will come next week,
“For many, many years Good Shepherd Home has been a poll site,” Widman said of the Fostoria precinct 4B. “We will not be a poll site next Tuesday. So, we have worked with the (Seneca County) board of elections. And we are moving the poll location from Good Shepherd Home across the street, to the former Church of the Brethren building. That’s the first real change in visitor policy people will see us make.
“And then from there, you will slowly see a reduction in visitors in our building. And so we haven’t determined the exact timing of some of them, but we anticipate implementing some of these next week.”
Widman said a tremendous reduction in the amount of visitors allowed in the building will take place.
“So, you will come in and you will be greeted. And the first thing that will happen is we’re going to take your temperature. And if you don’t pass the temperature test, you’ll be asked to leave,” he said.
Visitors passing the temperature test will be asked where they have traveled recently. Widman said there is an area outside of the resident area that can be utilized for some of the visitations.
“Again, we will tremendously begin to limit the visitation from the outsiders. And we will absolutely begin to monitor what we believe their health and well being is. That’s just one of the things, and you’ll see some others as we get advice from the long-term care ombudsman, as we get advice from the Seneca County Health Department, as we get advice from CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services), and the Ohio health department, We will modify our procedures based on the recommendations of that day. So, even what they recommend us to do on Friday might be different than what they’re telling us today. So we want to be flexible enough that we can move quickly and implement these things.”
Another noticeable change that will begin next week is the use of the facility’s lower level for group and club meetings.
“We will again ask that they don’t come out for a while,” he said.
Some changes Good Shepherd is taking to protect its residents are basic and fall under common sense.
“It’s as simple as we are changing the color of the signs at the doors,” he said. “It’s not new, but it looks different. We’ve had a sign at the door that says, ‘If you don’t feel well, don’t visit.’ So we are changing the sign, just so that people will come in and ask, ‘Oh, is that new? What does that say?’ So those are the types of things we’re just trying to do to make sure people don’t miss it.”
Widman said there have been countless meetings with the home’s task force and department heads to address the concerns of the residents and their families.
“The key is to make sure we have the basic policies and that we’re utilizing them. And so from there, we are re-educating, reminding staff of proper hand washing techniques. We are posting additional signage — all the things that we can do to remind visitors and staff about what needs to be done, which should be done on a routine basis.”
Widman said the exact timing as to when of the home’s initiatives are in place has not been determined, but some are anticipated to be implemented next week.
“So now, if the spread of the virus continues and all of a sudden it’s in Findlay tomorrow, we will probably speed up some of our initiatives, but we’ve been working very closely with the Seneca County Health Department,” he said. “They’ve been a good resource of information for us. We’ve been working with the Ohio Department of Health as far as information and guidance as to what to do. We’ve been making residents aware, ensuring that the residents have accurate information.”
Fostoria’s Independence House is also keeping a watchful eye on developments with the coronavirus.
“As we monitor ongoing developments related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), for long-term care we are closely following guidelines from The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. As always, the best defense is proper handwashing. The safety and well-being of potential residents, visitors and staff are our top priorities,” Colleen Abrams, infection preventionist at Blanchard Valley Health System, said in a prepared statement in response to the Review Times’ inquiry.
Messages seeking comment from St. Catherine’s Manor of Fostoria were not returned by press time but Wednesday evening the facility posted to its Facebook the changes it is making to its visitor’s policy.
“During this time of abundant precautions, our duty is to protect our resident’s health, safety, and quality of life. We have made the tough decision to limit 1 visitor per resident per day until further notice,” the statement said.
“This rapidly changing situation is being monitored by our team, we are following the newly updated CDC guidelines for COVID-19 and want to assure you that our top priority is the safety of our resident’s.”
Another post advises would-be visitors to contact the facility’s Social Services Department by phone at 419-435-8112 and they can assist with alternatives to visits such as Facetime, Skype, phone calls, etc.
The post also advises when visiting hours are and that visitors are to enter through a designated entrance where they will be greeted and have their temperature checked and asked questions before visiting a resident.
For more information on the coronavirus and how to protect yourself, visit: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19 or cdc.gov.
Woodland: 419-435-6641 ext. 236