As I communicated last week, Givens Estates’ good fortune with no team members or residents with documented positive COVID-19 continues. There have been additional cases of COVID-19 among residents and team members in four Long Term Care facilities in Buncombe County since last week. As I have communicated previously, we will continue to do everything we can to keep the virus from making its way to our community, but we must also prepare for the possibility that we will see cases on our campus. Please know that I will communicate with you promptly if we have a first positive case on campus. We need to continue with all our good practices we have been performing and not become lax in our efforts. We will enter Phase II of Governor Cooper’s “Safer at Home” plan this evening which still recommends that people at high risk for serious illness continue to practice staying home except for essential needs. Although more businesses will open during this phase, we strongly encourage you to only go out for essentials.
As you may know, there have been recommendations from the Federal and State Government that all long-term care facilities like Givens Estates Health Center and Wood Assisted Living test team members and residents for COVID-19. We continue to work with local public health and State officials to seek guidance on how this will be implemented. Earlier this week the federal government issued guidance regarding the requirements to re-open long-term care facilities which include testing as a surveillance strategy for the virus. However, these recommendations are linked to the availability of testing in the area. Current laboratory capacities would easily be overwhelmed if every long-term care facility in the state began widespread testing of all residents and team members weekly, and this would dramatically slow down priority testing for local outbreaks, those symptomatic and suspected exposures. Most experts are recommending holding off on widespread testing until lab capacities reach significantly higher levels.
In our weekly call this past Tuesday with local public health and hospital officials; the Buncombe County Health Director and staff provided guidance for testing to be prioritized for symptomatic and exposed individuals which remains our current approach. We continue to monitor residents and team members for any sign of exposure or symptoms and isolate and test these individuals as indicated. As lab capacities improve it is likely that the guidelines and our approach will change.
Givens Estates has established relationships with several labs, so we are poised to implement more COVID-19 testing for the health center and assisted living when indicated. If you have questions about your specific situation and testing, please contact your personal physician for guidance.
We would be remiss if we did not remind you of the preventative measures which include:
You may have noticed the addition of a small guardhouse at the main entrance. We have decided to add this building to provide a more appropriate shelter for the individuals monitoring access to campus from the weather. This building is temporary and will be removed when visitation restrictions are relaxed.
Givens Estates continues to do everything possible to mitigate the spread of the virus and I am grateful for the contributions of team members and residents towards this effort. Please continue to follow the guidelines and minimize activities that can put you at risk of contracting the virus. Thank you for your patience and have a nice Memorial Day weekend.
John C. Cowan, Jr.