At Life Care Athens, we know the privilege – and pain – of holding the hands of dying residents – patients whose families wanted their loved ones to remain at "home" with us for their final days, instead of transferring to a local hospital.
We are COVID-free for now. Although there is no guarantee of what tomorrow holds with the most contagious virus Americans have ever seen, the lessons we have already learned during this pandemic have made us better. And the devastating moments of the unprecedented crisis we face have been replaced with optimism for the future. Our commitment is stronger than ever.
From our first known case of COVID-19 on April 12 to the last cleared case on June 8, the Athens community came together to support and encourage our associates as we met the virus head on, defeated it and moved forward with a stable, safe facility. We continue to be grateful for that ongoing community support.
During the 57 days we battled COVID-19 in our facility, we saw 80 confirmed cases and 14 resident deaths, the last one on May 21. There is no debating that emotional scars remain, and our hearts break when we think of those we lost and the families they left behind. The residents we lost will never be forgotten, and plans are already under way to memorialize them in a meaningful way.
"What is important to know now is that we have learned from experience how to maintain and assure safety in our facility for patients and associates," said Jennifer Solomon, the divisional vice president responsible for Athens.
"What is important is being vigilant in all we do, and I know that will be the case in Athens as we look to the future."
That vigilance includes:
- A 10-point respiratory assessment of every patient every day
- Plans to install a new air-filtration system that improves air flow and kills the virus with ultraviolet light
- Weekly nasal swab testing for all associates with a results turnaround time of 48-72 hours
- Private rooms for all new admissions for at least 14 days, allowing for observation to prevent any new introduction of the virus into the facility
- Ongoing communication with family members, including window visits, texts, phone calls, FaceTime calls and "drive-by" parades to keep families connected to their loved ones
- Strict adherence to CDC and state health department infection control protocols, including the wearing of goggles or face shields
- Continuously updating training for associates based on regulations and first-hand experience in controlling the virus
Our leadership and associates have walked through some dark days and have come out stronger on the other side. We look to the future and are more committed than ever to the Athens community and to delivering high-quality care and peace of mind to our patients and their families in the safest possible environment.