Coronavirus: Dallas Nursing Homes And Senior Assisted-Living Facilities Taking Precautions

By Rebecca Aguilar
Staff Writer

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Dallas are taking measures to protect their residents from the coronavirus. Many are following the strict guidelines put in place by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which restricts visitation from friends and family and also restricts all volunteers and non-essential healthcare personnel.

The cancellation of group activities and shared dining was also instituted. Modern Senior Living in South Dallas is not allowing visitors at this time. The Director of Nursing, Jennifer Segarra, made the decision Friday morning. She says they thought by not allowing visitors at this time there is less likelihood of a coronavirus affecting residents.

“We are not allowing visitors at this time, not even family,” she said. “We encourage phone calls, and the residents have access to phones. “Employees who have to work, we are screening them with a questionnaire when they come in, and if they have any signs or symptoms, they cannot come in.”

The CDC says visitors and healthcare personnel are the most likely source to bring COVID-19 into a facility and that’s why it recommends aggressive visitor restrictions and is also enforcing sick leave policy for employees who become ill even before the coronavirus is found inside a home for the elderly.

Currently, 70 residents live at Modern Senior Living, and most are over the age of 65. Ms. Segarra said they are watching out for anyone with signs of chills and fever that could lead to COVID-19. Brookdale Senior Living has facilities in North Texas, including White Rock, Lake Highlands, and Preston Road. It’s taking precautionary measures to protect elderly residents from the coronavirus.

Heather Hunter, the public relations officer for the company, said they are also following CDC guidelines and strongly discourages visitors, but anyone who does want to visit won’t be able to walk in. “We haven’t restricted visitors at this point,” she said, adding that this could change at any minute.

“But anyone who does want to visit has to be screened for temperature and has to answer a questionnaire before they can come into the community.” Brookdale has assigned a programming team to set up iPads with online programs so the residents can have video chats with loved ones who cannot visit because of the CDC guidelines.

“The last thing we want is for the residents to feel alone because there is a restriction for visitors,” said Hunter. According to Ms. Hunter, they have re-educated their staff on disease prevention efforts, informed suppliers regarding safety requirements, and are limiting significant group events.

Since the virus was announced, Brookdale staff has canceled planned outings for residents and is using its website to communicate how it is responding to the COVID-19.

Sage Oak Assisted Living has homes for the elderly in Lakewood, Lake Highlands, and three other Dallas locations. Resident Care Coordinator, Jovann Blackwell, said Sage Oak is staying on top of the latest information from the CDC so that everyone involved, whether its “residents, family, staff members and outside entities, are well informed of the virus and different precautions we can take to prevent any outbreak and keep our residents safe.”

Also, residents and staff have been reminded of the basics of hand washing and sanitizing. “We’re also following the trend of the virus, and its location, to make sure our staff is aware that being in those areas could potentially expose them to the virus.” Residents at Sage Oak are between 70 and 95-years-old. CDC Guidelines for Nursing Homes and Senior Living Facilities.

An estimated 2.5 million people are living in nursing homes and senior living facilities in the country. The CDC has issued strict guidelines to keep the COVID-19 virus from getting into a facility for the elderly. Nursing homes and Senior Living homes are being advised to post signs at the entrances to inform visitors not to visit if they are sick or have a respiratory infection.

Employees should be informed about their sick-leave policies that allow them to stay home if they have symptoms of respiratory infection. The CDC also has guidelines to help prevent the spread of respiratory germs inside a nursing home or senior living facility.

One key measure is to have open communication with residents and employees and keep them informed about the steps the facility is taking to protect everyone from the deadly disease. Managers are advised to monitor residents and staff for fever and respiratory symptoms.

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