Letter to Residents & Families 6.11.2020

June 11, 2020

June 11, 2020

Dear Sunrise Residents, Families & Friends,

As you are aware, nursing facilities are required by CMS to report weekly to residents, their representative and families with a cumulative update on any positive tests for residents or staff as well as anytime there is a new positive test result.

We have no new infections to report for the past week.  Cumulatively, since April 20, we have reported 9 individuals with COVID-19 positive test results.  One person is completing their quarantine and the other 9 people have recovered. We will follow the reporting guidelines and be sure our residents, resident representatives & families have current information as required.  We desire to be transparent in our communications, while protecting the privacy of those who become sick. 

The Sunrise Health Center and Assisted Living facilities have implemented the following actions to prevent or reduce the risk of transmission:

  • Visitation is restricted
  • Group activities and group dining for the residents are limited or restricted
  • Non-medically necessary trips outside the building are avoided
  • 100% of residents are assessed every shift and they are closely monitored for any changes in their condition
  • 100% of 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.
  • Universal source control has been implemented for everyone in the facility (face masks)
  • Staff wear appropriate PPE when interacting with the residents
  • A dedicated isolation area is maintained for new admissions or those residents who have had to leave the facility and have returned.  Residents will stay in this area for 14 days after admission.

We do, however, continue to have employees report potential exposures or symptoms of illness in themselves as the virus continues to spread throughout the area.  Employees who have a known exposure through someone they live with are asked to self-quarantine and not to report to work for 10 days, assuming they do not start to show signs of the virus. 

As you are aware, the Iowa Department of Public Health has developed plans that allow nursing facilities to plan for relaxed restrictions in three phases.  They are allowing assisted living programs to develop their own relaxing criteria, however, since Sunrise and Fountain View Assisted Living share many of the same staff members, we plan to be conservative in how we adapt our assisted living plans.  Please watch for coming information about those plans.

The State’s plan hinges on 14 day time frames, noting that facilities start off in Phase 1 – the most restrictive phase and the way we have been operating since mid-March.  Facilities must not have any infections to report (either staff or residents) for 14 days in order to progress to Phase 2, assuming that several other criteria are met, including a downward trend for infection rates in the county and local community, adequate levels of PPE, adequate hospital capacity, adequate staff available and a plan for testing all staff and residents.  All facilities started their 14 day window on June 4, the day this guidance was released.  The soonest we will be allowed to move to the next phase will be on June 18, assuming that there are no infections reported prior to that day.  We will keep you informed as we near that day about any scheduled changes.  Please be aware that relaxing visiting does not occur until Phase 3 of the State’s plan, which at a minimum would be July 2.

I do want to acknowledge that the separation that we have been forced to endure has been hard on our residents and their families.  We are hopeful as we see plans coming into place that we will be able to return to some kind of operation that feels more “normal”, but we may run into some bumps in the road and we must be prepared.  If we have infections to report we will have to go back to Phase 1 and will need to test residents and staff and revert to restrictions. 

Please continue to use our website as a resource for information from the following agencies:  Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Center for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS), Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), Department of Inspections & Appeals (DIA) and Siouxland District Health. The Sunrise website is also your source for information about the status of COVID in our facility, along with our e-newsletter & Facebook page.  You can sign up for our e-newsletter at the bottom of the homepage (www.sunriseretirement.com).

We are all trying to think “outside the box” about ways that we can alter our operations and make the necessary accommodations to deal with the virus in a long term way and we welcome any ideas that our residents and families have, so please feel free to share them.  We are grateful for your support and prayers and look forward to seeing you soon.


Hallie Salmen, CEO         &         Chris Schenkelberg, Administrator

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