Dear Village at Belmar Community,
We have received feedback from some of the loved ones of residents regarding the new Assisted Living resident that tested positive for COVID-19 that we told you about in our letter yesterday. First and foremost, we understand and acknowledge the feelings of fear and serious concern that you may have now that we have our first individual with a positive result in Assisted Living at Village at Belmar. The feedback includes questions regarding the fact that a new resident was allowed to move into the community. While we are happy to have individual conversations to address this, we felt it was important to distribute an additional communication to you this morning clarifying our practices for new move-ins to the community.
We believe that it is important to reiterate our processes and procedures that have been put into place since early March when this pandemic first surfaced. Since this all began, we have been closely tracking, reacting and installing protocols following guidance from federal and state governing bodies. This includes Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which oversees federal healthcare facilities, which would be nursing homes, one of the most highly regulated industries in our country. Assisted Living, as many of you know, is not a nursing home. Throughout this pandemic, we have chosen to not only follow but to exceed recommendations provided by CMS to the nursing home industry for our Assisted Living environments. This included our decision to shut down communal dining, activities and visitation before it was mandated. We also chose to pause new move-ins for a few weeks while we established the proper protocols and a partnership with a testing laboratory where we could receive test results quickly.
The move-in protocol that Ascent created, in conjunction with our Medical Consultant, Dr. Singh, is among the strictest in the industry, including at a nursing home level. We established an extensive questionnaire that not only examines every aspect of the resident and their recent history, it also examines the recent health history of anyone that lives with them or provides care to them if they are coming from a home environment. In addition, any new resident who is approved to move-in after this rigorous assessment is then tested immediately prior to move-in. Once a negative test result is obtained, the resident is then placed on a 14-day isolation and treated the same as any COVID-19 positive resident; we utilize full PPE in their care and any interactions. The resident is then tested a second time as they close in on their 14-day window to ensure that they continue to test negative prior to being released from this isolation period.
We still have a lot to learn today and tomorrow. Through contact tracing we will be conducting more than 50 tests. To be clear, this resident had a negative COVID-19 test prior to moving into the community. We are fighting an invisible enemy and determining the precise source of infection of COVID-19 for any infected person will be very difficult to ascertain. We cannot rule out the possibility that this new resident was infected by an asymptomatic staff member after their arrival at Village at Belmar. As and additional safeguard, associates who now care for this resident will not care for any other resident.
There are seniors in the greater Lakewood community, just like you or your loved ones, who are in need of care and services. Those who have been isolated and lonely, with limited support available due to shelter-in-place mandates, have seen significant declines in physical and mental health during this pandemic. There continues to be a great need for the care and services we provide at Village at Belmar, and we need to continue to evolve and accommodate those needs. At its essence, this is the mission of our company. If we are to get back to any sense of normalcy, including once again allowing outside visitors, we need to be able to safely and systematically resume our operating practices.
As always, we as local owners and operators of Village at Belmar are absolutely focused on the health and safety of our residents, their loved ones and our staff. This is a very difficult virus we are battling, and it has affected every single one of us in ways that were unimaginable ninety days ago. We appreciate your words of support, and also your letters with questions and concerns. We will continue to update you on a regular basis as more information is available.
If you have any further questions, please reach out to Village at Belmar’s Executive Director, Michael Ruback.
Tom and Susie Finley – Founder and Principal