Author: Mitzi A. Kweder, M.S. CCC-SLP, Director of Quality and Standards of AdvantageCare Rehabilitation
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the entire globe by taking so many lives and obliterating numerous industries in its wake. It has greatly affected our lives as therapists in the skilled nursing facilities in so many ways as well. We have an important role in serving our residents and customers by doing our part to help mitigate the spread of the virus.
A large part of my role with AdvantageCare Rehab since March 2020 has been to track our exposure to the residents and vice versa. As soon as I hear that a resident has tested positive, I track all of the therapists that have treated that resident in the last 14 days and on what days they were seen. This information is then used later, if needed, to have supportive evidence to help our staff deal with the unfortunate potential of transmission of the virus.
When I know that one of our staff members have tested positive, I track in reverse by noting which residents were seen on what days by the positive therapist. This information is then relayed to our customer’s leadership to ensure they have all of the exposure information they need to be able to put their containment efforts into play.
This is a time-sensitive task and one that I take very seriously. The sooner we know the exposure information, the sooner we can take action to keep everyone as safe as possible. Swift and accurate communication between all parties is key.
Our therapy teams, in collaboration with their facilities, have employed several strategies from the onset of this pandemic to keep the physical spaces as safe as possible.
Some of these strategies include:
- diligent use of PPE as per facility and governing body policy
- disciplined hand washing
- no treatments in the gym area
- no outside visitors
- COVID-19 testing and 14-day quarantine for all new admissions
- COVID-19 “therapist teams”
- one resident at a time in the gym with sanitizing of equipment after each use
- positive COVID-19 residents in isolation
- social distancing in office areas; no shared food or drink
- no in-person staff meetings unless social distancing; using email as the main form of communication
- completion of ACR’s Disinfecting Log
- scheduled lunch breaks to reduce the number of staff members in one area
- no sharing staff, including PRN, between facilities
- treating positive COVID-19 residents last in the day
- providing education regarding any new information on COVID-19 as necessary
- being diligent when not at work, it is important to follow all of the same precautions and PPE management
Finally, another role we have is to keep hope alive for each other and our residents. Teamwork and morale have never been so important. Being the light in a resident’s day helps with the devastating isolation that many residents are going through. Do not underestimate the impact you can make by complying with exposure tracking and the strategies discussed. Thank you to ACR’s frontline staff; you are all true heroes!