Heritage President and CEO, Lisa Haglund, confirmed today that The Green and The Village, Heritage senior living communities located in Chautauqua County, NY, have seen a recent increase in COVID-19 positive tests.
Haglund stated, “After we were notified of a noticeable increase in positive COVID-19 test results, we worked to immediately begin precautionary increased testing beyond required New York State mandates. The testing allows us to quickly identify, and proactively respond, to additional COVID-19 positive staff and residents. At this time 1% of our skilled nursing staff and 3% of our skilled nursing residents in Chautauqua County have tested positive. Our staff who tested positive are currently in quarantine, and will not return to work until further notice. All of our resident families have been notified. In accordance with HIPPA requirements, no further details will be released.”
Haglund shared that in response to the increased number of COVID-19 positive tests, Heritage has elected to temporarily cease admissions at The Village in Gerry, NY and The Green in Greenhurst, NY effective January 9 (The Green) and January 8 (The Village), as they work to maintain a safe environment for both residents and staff.
Haglund continued, “At Heritage, the health and safety of both our residents and staff is of the utmost importance, and we are taking action to reduce the risk of exposure for all. The steps we have implemented are directly tied to the recommendations and guidelines of the CDC and state, local, and federal regulations, and we will adjust these steps if those recommendations change. We have restricted all outside visitation as mandated by New York State as we battle COVID-19 in our community. In addition, our COVID-19 positive residents are cared for in a dedicated unit by specially assigned staff who have no interaction with any other residents or staff. We continue to screen all residents and staff daily, and employees are tested weekly throughout our skilled nursing communities, as mandated by the state of New York. In accordance with the recently updated NYS mandate, all skilled nursing community staff will be tested twice weekly beginning January 14, 2021. All potentially impacted areas have been thoroughly cleaned, and enhanced PPE is being used as needed in our communities. We understand the frustration these practices present for our residents and loved ones. We are doing everything that we can to care for our residents during this unprecedented pandemic. We also are continuing to offer window, Zoom, and Facetime visits so our families are still able to connect. We ask everyone for their continued prayers and support for Heritage during this difficult time.”
“We believe our incredible team of caregivers is well equipped, trained, and ready to support our residents as we face increased COVID-19 cases in our community. The work our employees do each day is essential, but especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, they have worked tirelessly. During this difficult, and often stressful time, they and their families have sacrificed so that our residents can continue to receive the same compassionate care Heritage has always been known for. We recognize the work they are doing and our executive team at Heritage continues to work diligently to provide generous hazard pay for those working in the COVID-19 unit, free meals for our employees and their families, and counseling and pastoral services for those who desire them. We can never thank them enough for the heroic jobs they are performing as they care for our most vulnerable population, our seniors. We are both blessed and honored to be in their presence each day,” she said.
Haglund added that all residents and staff at all Heritage skilled nursing communities were also given the option to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, with approximately 80% of all residents and 25% of all staff already receiving their first dose. “We are blessed beyond measure that our prayers have been heard, and that our residents and healthcare heroes in our skilled nursing communities were among the first to be given the option to receive the vaccine. While we remain respectful of the right to choose vaccination, for the first time in almost a year, our most vulnerable population and skilled nursing staff have an individual choice in how they will fight COVID-19, and we are so appreciative of our local, state, and federal agencies for recognizing this need. We remain hopeful that the vaccine will provide additional protection to those who have chosen to receive it as we continue to battle the pandemic.”
Haglund concluded by addressing the challenges for seniors who call Heritage home during the pandemic. Amidst the unprecedented events and regulations of COVID-19, residents and staff have found creative and unique ways to remain engaged and a part of their community. “The seniors that we serve deserve the very best from us, and our Heritage teams, from chaplaincy to activities and everyone in between, are committed to using love, imagination, innovation, and faith to find ways to encourage and provide hope in the midst of darkness, and we will continue to do so as we work to keep our residents safe and promote Hope, Dignity, and Purposeful Living,” she said.