To: Residents of Covenant Village
From: Dale Melton, CEO
Date: October 23, 2020
We learned this morning that we have a Health Center (HC) Staff member who tested positive for COVID-19. The positive test result was an outcome of the State’s current mandatory COVID testing for both Health Center Residents and Staff.
This particular scenario is just the reason NC DHHS established mandatory, routine testing when Dr. Mandy Cohen released Secretarial Order No. 2 on August 7, 2020. Let me explain the scenario. This particular Staff member exhibited no active symptoms. The individual had no idea he/she was positive. Covenant Village had no idea—until test result came back from Wednesday’s routine weekly mandatory testing. In this particular situation, the process worked like it was intended—for which we are grateful!
The Employee will be isolating at home until cleared by the Gaston County DHHS office to return to work. The Employee is doing well—obvious by the fact that he/she was completely asymptomatic.
As soon as we received notification of this positive test result, we began working with the Health Center leadership to undertake the investigative process of Contact Tracing, which is crucial in our response to any COVID-19 situation. At this time, we have found no indication of exposure to Residents or Staff.
Let me summarize where we are at this point in time:
• Covenant Village began the State’s mandatory testing of HC Staff on August 26th.
• With the first HC Staff positive case on October 7th, we were required to include all HC Residents in weekly mandatory testing.
• We are required to continue HC Resident testing until we have a 14-day window of no new positive cases. That 14-day window starts today for us, but would change pending the test results of future rounds.
• With the first HC Staff positive case on October 7th, we shut down the Health Center, including suspending outdoor visitations for HC Residents.
• Currently, we have three active cases: 1 HC Resident and 2 HC Staff members. All are doing well.
• Our first HC Staff positive case was October 7th. The first HC Resident positive case was October 17th. The second HC Staff positive case was today, October 23rd.
• The State’s mandatory testing is doing what it was intended to do—identifying asymptomatic cases.
• We continue to monitor Staff, and on occasions Residents, who may have been potentially exposed or who are showing symptoms. We have been doing this for months; we will continue to do so through the end of this Pandemic.
As we have shared all along, any positive cases or potential exposures are serious for us at Covenant Village—even more so in our Health Center. This virus is still actively present and remains dangerous to anyone, but particularly our population who are most vulnerable. We CANNOT let our guard down. We have a long way to go—particularly as the Fall and Winter Seasons settle in!
Further news: You will hear that our testing frequency in the Health Center has increased to TWICE weekly. It is NOT due to our current active cases. In fact, we have no control on the frequency that is mandated to us. When the NC DHHS set up the mandatory testing regulations, it was determined that a Nursing Home’s County and its current % Positive metric would determine the frequency of these mandatory tests. If the County stays below 10%, you are only required to do so weekly, but IF a County’s % Positive metric climbs to 10% or higher, you must test TWICE a week.
The reporting tool NC DHHS uses to measure County’s % Positive metric shows Gaston County at 10.2%. We start twice weekly testing on Monday, October 26th. All indications are that our County number will be climbing.
As I said in the last community memo, I am seeing a heightened sense of “COVID fatigue,” which has been well-documented in the news. Both Residents and Staff continue to show mounting weariness, which is understandable. We have been confronting this menace for eight long months.
Yet, through it all, we will persevere, and Staff will continue to provide the care and services that Covenant Village requires! I will share with you that the Outdoor Visitations (which we began two weeks ago) have been a huge shot of good and renewing energies on campus, as has re-opening Communal Dining in small “bites” in our Main Dining Room. Chaplain Joan Martin offered Communion this week for the first time with Residents present (14 attended, so we can monitor and control)—the first time since April! We are grateful to all the Residents who have made these types of return to some degree of the “new normal” possible and successful so far!
What should you continue to be doing when you are outside your home?
• Wear a facemask at ALL TIMES while you are out (unless you are outside exercising alone).
• Practice physical distancing of at least six (6) feet at ALL TIMES.
• Wash your hands CONTINUALLY and use hand sanitizer in between.
• Practice good cough etiquette.
• Use common sense on what you should and should not do.
• If you experience any of the COVID-19 related symptoms or are just not feeling well, you should contact the Arbor Wing Nurses Station at —704.917.7857.
We realize the significant and ongoing inconvenience to life, as well as the physical, spiritual, and emotional toll that this Pandemic has brought to our Village, our county, our state, our nation, and our world. Thank you for understanding and complying with the conditions we must put into place, as we all remain committed to preserving the health and well-being of our entire community.
For those of us who may have eased off our compliance with the above infection control guidance, use this time to re-evaluate your efforts and actions on behalf of our entire Village! We are only as good as you are and as I am. We will get through this—together! A committed community conquers COVID!!
We will continue to provide the latest information via community memos; Covenant Conversations on the internal TV channel and Facebook; as well as the Covenant Village website (https://covenantvillagenc.com/) and Facebook page.
Let’s covenant with each other to Finish Strong this Journey—and to Keep HOPE Alive!