Letter to Residents & Families 5.19.2020

May 19, 2020

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May 19, 2020

Dear Sunrise Residents, Families & Friends,

I am writing today to follow up on communications that I’d sent last week regarding positive COVID-19 test results received by some of our staff members after participating in the TestIowa program.  As of Friday, May 15, I had reported 7 positive results were received.  Over the weekend 4 of those individuals received clarifying calls from the testing authority stating that their results had been incorrectly read and should have showed “negative” status.  This will change the number of positive results received to 3.  The individuals who still have positive results continue to be asymptomatic and to self-isolate at home as recommended by IDPH until they are cleared to return to work.

I had also mentioned that we were discussing the possibility of testing all residents.  Our care team and Medical Director, Dr. Amy Rief-Elks, have discussed this and have some initial reservations about proceeding with tests for all residents.  The test is uncomfortable and distressing, especially for those residents who are confused.  Additionally, since the test is only a picture in time, it would need to be repeated frequently in order to be meaningful (for negative cases).  We are currently screening our residents on each shift, or three times per day, for signs or symptoms of the illness and do not have any suspected or confirmed cases among our residents at this time.  For these reasons, we have chosen not to proceed with testing all residents.  This could change if we start having residents or staff with symptoms or if we are required by State or Federal regulators.  However, if there is a concern about a specific resident after a regular screening assessment, we will proceed with testing that individual.

Sunrise continues to practice the following:

  • Implementing all CMS and CDC guidelines for limiting guests or outside entities in the facility, cancelled all resident activities and residents continue to stay in their rooms/apartments as much as possible including at meals when possible.
  • Residents are assessed every shift and they are closely monitored for any changes in their condition.
  • Staff are monitored at the beginning and end of each of their shifts and are encouraged to be careful of where they are going in public and stay home if they do not feel well.   Staff are also encouraged to stay home if they live with someone who is experiencing symptoms, even if they are not.
  • Staff continue to wear appropriate personal protection equipment at all times in the facility and residents are encouraged to wear masks or cover their noses/mouths during personal care with nursing staff.

Last evening the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidance for “re-opening” strategies for long term care facilities.  We will spend some time reviewing this document and will work to create and implement a plan that will work for Sunrise and that is appropriate within the experience of our local community.  We will need to be sure whatever re-opening strategies we put in place are practical and that we can meet the regulatory requirements for safely accomplishing the goals.  We will communicate our plans with residents and families once they have been established. 

Please remember to find ways to engage with your loved ones, even though you are at a distance.  We are happy to set up video calls or help place phone calls.  Reach out to our Activities Director at 712-276-3821 x 3130 to set up a time for these calls, or call the neighborhood manager for more information on your loved one.  Possibly deliver a care package or treat to them – we will gladly deliver any items that are placed on the table in our foyer area.  Keep in touch with Sunrise by signing up for our e-newsletter and/or following our Facebook page so that you have quick access to up-to-date information on the status of the health of our residents and staff.  All of our notices are also posted on our website – www.sunriseretirement.com.  You can sign up for the newsletter at the bottom of the homepage.

This has been a difficult time for our residents and staff, but we thank you for continuing to support Sunrise through it all!  Please continue to pray for the health and safety of all our residents and staff. Sincerely,

Hallie Salmen, CEO          &             Chris Schenkelberg, Administrator

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