As the Chief Operations Officer, and one of the owners at Woodstone Senior Living, we witness on a daily basis the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 crisis as we work relentlessly to protect our vulnerable seniors and the staff that cares for them.
Our top priority is the care and safety of our residents.
We could not fight this battle without the dedication of our remarkable staff of caregivers. Every day, they risk their own health to provide our residents with the support and compassion they need. I am in awe of their determination and courage. They show up each and every day, risking their own health and safety, to care for our loved ones with the dignity and respect they deserve.
I would especially like to thank our executive team for their ability to pivot on a daily basis as we learned new information from the CDC and the Minnesota Department of Health, and the Wisconsin Health Department, which seemed like a daily call at early on.
As we have throughout the pandemic, we will continue to evaluate the best way to balance the needs of our residents and their loved ones to remain connected while prioritizing safety. We have carefully eased some restrictions to permit compassionate care, outdoor visits and loved ones who can help with personal caregiving. And we will continue to re-evaluate our policies and the infection rate in our community to determine when it is safe to do more.
We are committed to regular reassessments of our policies regarding visitor restrictions. In the meantime, we continue to encourage safe, meaningful interaction between residents and their loved ones. We continually work to balance the safety of our residents as we fight to prevent COVID-19 and the need to maximize the well-being of those living in our setting.
But the fact is until a vaccine is ready for widespread use, the most important factor in helping us prevent COVID-19 from infecting our vulnerable residents and staff is access to quick and accurate testing. Unfortunately, a robust testing program is not yet available. In the meantime, we will continue to be vigilant about screening, appropriate hygiene, mask use and social distancing.
We recognize the desire to fully resume regular visits at Woodstone, but until we have better tools to prevent this virus from entering our buildings, a full opening for visitor restrictions continues to be too great a risk to the health of our seniors and those that care for them.
In our Minnesota properties, we were recently given the opportunity to open up our communities a bit more by the Minnesota Department of Health (August 31st). Each week, we will make a determination to open for visitors based on several categories. County case positive rates, hospital bed availability, PPE availability, and staff availability will all play a role in that decision. This will be very consuming for the teams on site. We ask that you give the teams grace as they move through this process, as much of the decision will be outside of our hands. Should we be able to open for visits, visit must be scheduled through our online scheduling systems. If able, we will allow up to 5 visitors in the building at a time, which include those designated as essential care givers. Checking in and out with staff will be critical so that other families are able to come in and visit. Our ability to open for inside visits will be posted on our social channels each week.
We will continue with outdoor visits, compassionate care visits, window visits, and virtual meetings in both states as we are permitted to do by each states Departments of Health.
I urge everyone to do their part to help us fight this virus by wearing masks, washing hands and respecting the visitation rules that help keep residents of long-term care settings safe.
As we look ahead, we cannot underestimate the ongoing threat of the virus. I urge state leaders to consider how they can support the work we do to keep our oldest Minnesotans and Wisocnsinites safe, and I thank each of you for partnering with us to keep our older adults safe.
Roman Bloemke, COO, Woodstone Senior Living