Happy New Year!
The COVID virus continues to impact our nation. The Omicron variant is primarily responsible for our current upheaval. As of yesterday, Lancaster County’s positivity rate was over 30%. Unfortunately, the high positivity rate has resulted in numerous staff members testing positive and being off the job. As a result, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has revised the work return criteria, and we have elected to operate at their second level. The second level is categorized as the “Contingency” criteria. The Contingency category permits employees to return five days after testing positive if fever-free and mildly symptomatic with improving conditions. We have elected this level to continue to operate safely from the staffing perspective.
This week, approximately fifteen MMC employees have tested positive for COVID. MMC also has three residents in our Herrnhut Personal Care area who have tested positive. At this writing, all residents and staff are doing well. Most have mild symptoms.
The initial reaction is for panic and worry to set in. Do the vaccines work? The short answer is yes. The longer answer is to get your booster shot. Below I show a screenshot of the Lancaster County Hospital statistics followed by a COVID update from Lancaster General Hospital/Penn Medicine.
Note that of the hospital admissions, seventy-five percent are unvaccinated patients. Also important to note is that in conversations with LGH/Penn, it is clear that only several of the 121 inpatients have their boosters. Statistically speaking, this is a small subset, but it is still a stretch to develop a coherent argument that vaccines are ineffective. Thank you for our very high compliance rate among our residents. I am also pleased to say that MMC has the highest vaccine rate for their employees in the county (within the CCRC facilities)!
Based on the above description, I believe the current situation will fade quickly toward the end of January. Some scientists believe the Omicron variant will help slow down the virus. It spreads very rapidly, and any illness is very mild for the most part. The ease of the spread results in more folks having antibodies which may mean fewer places for the virus to find a home. If they are correct, this variant has a silver lining. To be clear, I am reporting on what I have read and am not a scientist!
Our holiday meals went very well, and to my knowledge, there were no outbreaks associated with the evenings of fun, food, and fellowship. Understanding that the socialization of residents is paramount, we are planning to continue our scheduled activities with as few interruptions as possible. The trickiest part always revolves around the Founders Campus, specifically Steinman Hall. Steinman Hall has separate HVAC systems from the rest of the building so that air does not circulate in our care areas. The HVAC units have ionization systems installed that also help purify the air. We intend to go on with activities for residential living residents as planned. PLEASE pay careful attention to Jennifer’s instructions for specific activities. The main entrance to our care areas is where employees arrive, guests enter. We want to eliminate comingling; therefore, there may be detailed instructions on entering the building depending on the event.
Thank you again for your support of the safety of the entire community. Being part of a community means that sometimes we need to act in ways that we may disagree with, but we work for the good of the whole. The support you have shown our staff and each other has been phenomenal. Here is to a happy and healthy 2022!