Since my last update in early March, the COVID positivity numbers have continued to decline. Consequently, I am thoroughly enjoying interacting with residents in the café area. After two years of muted activity, our conversations are truly energizing (even when they are complaints)!
On January 12, 2022, there were 233 patients in Lancaster County Hospitals who tested positive for COVID-19 (note that not all of these patients were hospitalized due to COVID symptoms). At one point, 41 patients were in Intensive Care, and 34 were on ventilators. Earlier this week, the total number of COVID-positive patients was five. Two patients were in the ICU, and both were on ventilators. Wow. That is a precipitous drop. The MMC Residential Living mask requirements were modified due to this reduction in cases.
Today’s update will focus primarily on employee changes regarding the pandemic. Our COVID Task Force decided on Wednesday morning that the time has arrived to loosen restrictions on our staff not working in the skilled nursing area. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) determine the policy for skilled nursing. Below I summarize the changes.
- Effective Monday, April 11, no masks will be required of MMC employees if they are not in the skilled nursing footprint. However, employees, and all who enter skilled nursing (HH, HHS, HC and HCS) footprint are still required to wear masks.
- Personal Care and Assisted Living are not skilled care areas so masks are not required.
- MMC must weekly test employees who have not received an initial booster vaccine. There are no makeup times/dates for this testing.
- MMC still requires employees to wear a mask if they receive a medical or religious exemption. The masking requirement for non-vaccinated staff mimics our flu shot policy.
After two years of universal masking for our employees, the masking policy change is significant. Both our protocols for residents and staff are open to change. As we know, COVID moves in mysterious ways, and we likely will be faced with changes in the future.
I also recognize that not everyone is “at the same place” regarding restrictions. Employees must respect other residents’ and staff’s wishes. If I am speaking with a resident and they would prefer me to “mask up,” please tell me, and I will gladly put on a mask. That is how a healthy community functions.
Recently, I’ve been receiving questions about booster shots. Precisely, when do I get my second booster shot? Phoebe Pharmacy’s primary focus is getting the first booster shots into people. The FDA has approved the second booster shot for folks who are more than four months out from their first booster shot. Donna Gerofsky, RN Nursing Education Coordinator and Infection Preventionist, contacted Phoebe Pharmacy and they are looking to offer 2nd booster clinics in early May. We need to ascertain the level of residential interest in another booster clinic.
While it is most likely inappropriate to celebrate the end of COVID, it is appropriate to celebrate where we are today. Today, things are great. Time to get out and socialize! Thank you for your support and flexibility during the past two years.