Today’s update will focus on changes to our COVID practices and the current infection rate in Lancaster County.
First, the good news is that the positivity rate in Lancaster County continues to decrease rapidly. As of March 3, the positivity rate is 6.08. At the time of my last update, the rate was 25.61%. The chart below shows the LGH/Penn Medicine COVID hospitalizations as of February 28, 2022. Again, an impressive decline from one month earlier. Compare the February 28 data with the January 31 data. From my perspective, it does not get much more optimistic than these two graphics!
LANCASTER GENERAL HOSPITAL 02/28/2022
LANCASTER GENERAL HOSPITAL 01/31/2022
On Wednesday, March 2, our COVID-19 Task Force met and had a lively discussion for almost 90 minutes. In short, there were two discussions. One topic focused on Skilled Nursing and Assisted Living, and the other, Residential Living. When discussed in silos, the conclusions are straightforward. However, at Moravian Manor Communities, we are unable and should not operate in silos.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has loosened the masking requirements nationally based upon positivity rates. As shared earlier, our rates in Lancaster County are better than in many months. In terms of loosening up some of our requirements in Residential Living, the question became, “if not now, when?” We decided to focus on the now.
Effective immediately, masks are not required for residential living residents in non-care areas. However, if you desire to wear a mask, please continue to do so. The change is a difficult transition for our clinicians as we have had two years of preaching and attempting to enforce masking guidelines.
Our Task Force wants to emphasize that the masking requirements in skilled nursing, personal care, and assisted living have not changed. Our staff have enough duties to perform; they should not have to chase down visitors in these areas and ask them to mask up.
Several other updates accompany the change in masking requirements at MMC. I note them below.
- The Owl’s Nest will open to the broader community for lunch service effective Tuesday, March 8. We will post signs that outside guests must be vaccinated to enter. Our staff will not be checking vaccine cards.
- At this time our hours of service will not change. Due to the limited hours, the Owls Nest will not accept outside reservations for evening dinner service. Residents can bring guests to all meals. Your guests should be vaccinated.
- The café area will reopen for folks to enjoy their breakfast or lunch on Monday, March 7. So, for the first time in two years, residents will be able to socialize. Hallelujah!
- It is important to note that this update does not change our hours of service or types of service. For example, our “short-order” grill is not reopening. Food items available in the café will remain the same for the present time.
- Residential Living residents entering the Woods apartment building or the main entrance at the Founders Campus will no longer need to check-in at our kiosks if they are using the common areas (Steinman Hall, Café, Garden Court Dining Room, and Library). However, if you are coming to visit someone in our care areas, you are still required to check in and wear a visitor’s badge. Please help our staff make their days more tolerable by heeding these instructions.
- Staff will continue to be required to mask up in all interior areas until further notice.
Give your neighbors space, and do not push them to participate in activities or dining experiences if they are still uncomfortable. Every individual is at a different place on this journey. For instance, my wife is a much more social creature than I am, and she is busy planning things “to do and people to see.” We have decided that I will remain behind “catching up on domestic duties” on some of the ventures!” Give each other space.
The task force conversation became lengthy because of the distinct possibility of non-compliance. It is much easier to manage when not operating in gray areas. At the same time, our team recognizes that keeping residents safe is a broader mission than just the physical aspect. Many are struggling with depression, loneliness, and the need for socialization. We are at a place now where the physical challenges are under control, and we must start addressing the other aspects of our being.
It has been a long two years. I have been blessed to be part of a very supportive community from the residents, staff, and family members. Thank you for your continued support of our team. Whether you know it or not, residents are the ones that give us the energy and courage for another day.