Dobson: What Lakewood is doing for senior care and safety
There has been a lot of news coverage over the past several weeks about the impacts of COVID- 19 on senior citizens. I want to describe all we are doing to protect our residents, tenants, and clients of Lakewood Health System Care Center, Lakewood Pines, and Lakewood Manor, Home Care, Hospice and Palliative Care.
Since the pandemic first reached the United States, we have been coordinating with industry leaders and public health officials to establish clear safeguards and protocols to prevent transmission of the virus within our senior care facilities. These aggressive efforts include policies to limit outside visitors, suspension of group activities, and embracing recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This includes requiring our employees to wear masks at all times, increased handwashing/sanitizing, increased cleaning of buildings, and using other personal protective equipment (PPE) when working with residents, tenants, or clients who require this level of protection.
Senior citizens and those who live in communal settings are at greater risk of infection during this pandemic. As the virus spreads, it is inevitable some seniors and caregivers will be impacted despite all the protections we have put in place. With any residents or tenants who test positive for COVID-19, we have a plan to inform residents and tenants and/or their representative as well as staff, as we quarantine that individual and work with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) on the best course of action to prevent the spread of the illness.
This pandemic has exposed our nation’s lack of preparedness for a public health crisis, as the country has struggled to manage acute shortages of PPE that all healthcare workers rely on to do their jobs, including those who provide senior care. Caregivers have made unprecedented sacrifices during this outbreak. At this time, we do have appropriate PPE (as defined by MDH and CDC) to provide care. However, we recognize there are state and national shortages. We have conservation efforts in place to avoid waste or unnecessary use of PPE.
For those who have asked how they can help support seniors and caregivers, please continue to respect the access restrictions for our care center and assisted living buildings that are necessary to protect our most vulnerable residents. We know it’s difficult for families during this time, and we look forward to getting past this crisis so loved ones can be reunited in our facilities. Please continue to practice social distancing and follow the governor’s directives. The more we can limit community transmission, the more we will protect vulnerable populations, including our seniors.
Lastly, I want to thank our community for the support they have shown our health system, through sewing masks, donation of PPE, as well as respecting visitor restrictions and providing ‘virtual’ emotional support to our residents, tenants, clients, and staff. We are truly blessed to be part of local communities that support our health system in such an inspirational way.
Vice President, Senior Services Division Lakewood Health System