Update June 15, 2020

There have been no new confirmed resident or employee cases over the weekend and through today.  We will be conducting weekly testing again tomorrow.  There are currently four active resident cases and all are asymptomatic.  We will update you with any changes and when we receive the weekly test results.  
The PA Department of Health website is showing 76,883 confirmed and 2,238 probable cases for a total of 79,131 cases in the state.  That's an increase of 1,132 since Friday, June 12th.   Lancaster County is showing 3693 confirmed and 84 probable cases for a total of 3777, an increase of 94 since Friday, June 12th.  Please continue to be careful and stay safe.  Given the concern we have for what precautions are being taken by those in the greater community and the impact it will have on nursing home residents, I am sharing a very good article that was in the paper yesterday. I hope you will take a few minutes to read it and recognize why it's so important for you to take precautions. I have also shared this with our staff.

The following information is from an editorial in the Sunday Lancaster News on June 14, 2020 by Dr. Leon Kraybill.  Dr. Kraybill is a board certified Geriatric Physician affiliated with Lancaster General Health Physicians Geriatric Practice and serves as a Medical Director of a local long term care provider. This information is being shared to help you understand how COVID-19 spreads, what you can do to protect yourself, your loved ones and our nursing home residents.

"Prevention and management of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities is an evolving science that is slowly becoming clearer.

Our Lancaster County nursing home residents have taken the brunt of the illness and death associated with COVID-19. Our task now is to utilize all available tools to limit future outbreaks.

My previous column (“Please help lower COVID-19 exposure in nursing homes,” June 7, see earlier Facebook post) discussed limiting exposure to COVID-19. This column considers how to prevent infection if exposed. A subsequent piece will describe testing and how to slow the spread of infection once it occurs.

We cannot completely prevent exposure to COVID-19, but we can protect against its entry into the body.

How does COVID-19 infection spread to you or me or nursing home residents? It is primarily through viral particles in the air coming from the lungs. These particles land on the mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth) of another person and start an infection in their body.

The particles do not jump up and fly on their own. Rather, they need something or someone to propel them. This may be a sneeze, cough or just regular breathing. It may be a hand that touches a nose and then someone else or a door handle. It may be a used tissue picked up by another person.

These particles spread in a limited distance around the sick individual. A hard sneeze or cough may spread to 6 feet or more. Normal breathing spreads to a shorter distance. These particles are what we want to avoid, and why we recommend social distancing of 6 feet.

As a social courtesy to others, we should wear a cloth mask to prevent spread when we are out in public. If everyone took these precautions, as if we were each infected, then the spread of COVID-19 would drop significantly. You will see me wearing a cloth mask in public, as I have watched too many people die of this disease.

Because of asymptomatic COVID-19 infection, we will often not know when the person next to us is contagious. We should live as though any of our contacts could make us ill. In long-term care, we assume that any staff member has the potential to bring infection into the building. We wear personal protective equipment for our own safety, but much more for the well-being of our residents.

To prevent acquiring infection from others, we must cover the entry points where COVID-19 gets into the body. This is primarily the above-the-shoulders body parts of eyes, nose and mouth. Consistent protection of these body parts drastically reduces the risk of infection.

Nursing home staff have been covering their noses and mouths consistently for the past two months. The evidence is growing that protecting our eyes may be equally important. It will become standard for health care workers to wear eye-covering face shields or goggles when giving direct care.

Good hand hygiene continues to be essential, but primarily to prevent our hands from being the transporter of infection to ourselves or others. COVID-19 rarely enters the body through our hands. But these hands touch many things during the day including tables, pens, door handles and faces.

What does this mean for a regular trip to the grocery store? I believe strongly that it is a social courtesy and ethical obligation to wear a cloth mask. Those who are at high risk for COVID-19 infection and complications can decrease their risk by adding a face shield or goggles. I have added eye protection to my attire for high-risk public settings.

When in public, touch as few things as possible, especially where multiple other people have touched. Avoid touching your face. Wash your hands thoroughly or use alcohol gel regularly, especially before touching the keys, steering wheel, house door and other home items.

Avoid the busiest times in public. Let others pass if they cannot wait or are not willing to follow social distancing. Explain that you are doing this out of respect for your neighbor’s health. Lower the “heat” of your conversations, and just do the right thing for the good of all of us.

We now understand more about how COVID-19 spreads. There is a growing consensus about how we can protect our long-term care residents. Amid the continued discussion about the appropriate measures for our community social interactions, I believe that even precautions taken by some will be beneficial for the well-being of all.

COVID-19 has slowed in some places, but has recently ticked up again in Lancaster County. We remain in a high-risk time that is unlikely to end soon. We must remain COVID aware and vigilant every day. Please be thoughtful and deliberate about how you protect yourself, your family, your long-term care neighbors and your community."


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