A second Greenwood senior care facility has reported a staff member tested positive for COVID-19, and another employee is suspected of possibly having the virus.
NHC HealthCare Greenwood reported online an employee had tested positive, and in a news release that the employee followed CDC protocol and will not return to work until they’ve recovered. The illness wasn’t reported on a state Department of Health and Environmental Control list of cases in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, but DHEC only updates that list on Tuesdays and Fridays.
“NHC Healthcare Greenwood continues to follow protocols set forth by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services and the Centers for Disease Control and PRevention as well as the Health Department,” the news release said. “We completed our mass testing for COVID-19 (Monday) for all patients and partners and anticipate receiving those results in the coming days.”
COVID-19 is a fast-spreading illness, and older people, along with people with preexisting medical conditions, are at a higher risk of contracting the virus and facing serious illness from it.
Senior living facilities everywhere are having to adapt to protect residents, as stories of senior communities ravaged by the virus elsewhere raise concerns over housing so many vulnerable people together.
David Buckshorn, president and CEO of Wesley Commons, said no one had planned for a pandemic lasting this long.
“We’re all having to adapt as new data comes in,” he said. “We were very blessed to be able to roll out various responses, and we found out you don’t have one plan, you have several emergency plans.”
Closing down visitations, sanitizing surfaces, wearing protective gear and emphasizing hand-washing are one prong of the approach, but another lies in staffing. He said they don’t let staff cross over from one department to another, to help reduce the risk of contact and spread of the virus. Each department is compartmentalized, and has their own plan to optimize services while reducing the rate at which they burn through their supply of protective gear.
Buckshorn said he has staff whose full-time jobs are tracking and acquiring more masks, gloves and gowns. Staff have had to make other adjustments, like the chaplain giving virtual communion, and classes for the seniors being taught on screens, rather than face-to-face.
“Our staff proved to be very resilient, dedicated and have just done a phenomenal job serving our diverse population across the campus,” he said.
There have been scares, where an employee said they were in contact with someone who tested positive or were concerned about exposure, but so far every employee like that has been tested and no one has shown any signs of COVID-19.
Protecting the people who are most vulnerable is a team effort, and Buckshorn said those who refuse to wear masks or practice social distancing need to realize that there are immuno-compromised people who face potentially deadly consequences if they get sick. “Taking personal responsibility to protect ourselves is great, but we need to take personal responsibility to protect our fellow citizens,” he said.