We are proud to announce that to date, Fairview Senior Living has had no cases of COVID-19 in our facilities. Our goal with this post is to share an overview of the steps we’ve taken to remain COVID-free, and to assure you that we will never let our guard down: the health & safety of our residents & staff remains our top priority.
In early March of this year — prior to the significant spread of COVID-19 — Fairview Senior Living stopped access to our facilities by visitors and non-essential staff. We activated our “Pandemic Crisis Response Center,” and within hours, our leadership team put together a plan designed to minimize risks to our residents. With news and updates occurring on a constant basis during the start of the pandemic, our Crisis Team coordinated the daily correspondence with the CDC, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and the State Board of Health directives.
We began by segregating our 3 facilities (Fairview Rehabilitation & Skilled Nursing, Laurel Place Assisted Living, and The Inn at Fairview Memory Care), and instituted no sharing of staff. All staff who worked at multiple facilities were asked to make a choice, work here or there, but not both. All but two remained here on our campus. In addition to being screened prior to entering our buildings, our essential staff was tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis. We maintained open and honest communication with our residents and their loved ones, and found creative ways to stay “together” while apart, including setting up FaceTime calls. This eased the pain felt by the physical separation.
In March we received permission from the State to open a Surge Room. Our rehabilitation suite was set up to care for 8 patients with everything needed to run a full nursing unit. Isolated away from residents, with a separate entry and exit, this served as an ideal quarantine space should a resident test positive. We closely screen every potential admission, and each new admission is quarantined on our rehab unit for 14 days in an abundance of caution to protect our residents. All new admissions are tested just prior to admission and retested on day 4 and day 8 of their stay.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
We were very fortunate to have a significant inventory of PPE prior to the pandemic, and through our long-term relationships with vendors, we were able to increase our inventories early during the outbreak. The State of New Hampshire should be commended for the amount of PPE they have sent to Nursing Facilities throughout the state. All of our staff has had access to whatever PPE they have needed, and we do not foresee this changing. We also want to acknowledge our families, volunteers, and vendors for their generous donations of PPE in the form of masks, bibs, and other protective supplies.
From the start, our ownership team went above and beyond in supporting not only our day-to-day infection control procedures, but by committing to an enhanced COVID-19 testing program. This was a huge financial expense, but worth every penny. Ownership mandated this testing for two reasons: to keep our residents and staff safe, and to catch any potentially positive residents or staff before a major outbreak could take place.
In April, prior to the implementation of a State-led program to manage testing, Fairview Senior Living began weekly testing of our entire campus. This testing included both The Inn at Fairview Memory Care and Laurel Place Assisted Living, months before the State added assisted living facilities to the required testing cycle in September.
We recently received a BD Veritor from the Federal Government, which allows us to do onsite testing. This machine can detect COVID-19 antigens within 20 minutes, and we’re able to test residents rapidly so we can determine an appropriate course of action.
Fairview Senior Living has made a commitment to meet or exceed all regulations and recommendations as it pertains to testing requirements. At our own expense and in an abundance of caution, we will supplement the States monthly testing with the testing of 100% of our staff every week.
We are immensely grateful for the support, guidance, and assistance from our State and Federal partners. We continue to work hand in hand with them to ensure the safety of our residents.
In April, a CMS Branch Manager from Boston visited our campus to conduct a surprise infection control survey by the Federal Government. She was impressed by our plan, asked for copies of procedures and policies we put into place, and took pictures of our Surge Room. We received a deficiency-free survey and the surveyor reported to the Lead Department of Health Surveyor in New Hampshire, Kristie Holtz, that Fairview Senior Living was a “model facility” as it pertains to infection control. Our Director of Nursing was invited to speak with Kristie Holtz on a statewide webinar to discuss the plan we enacted and offer other facilities guidance on how to prevent COVID outbreaks.
We also had a State of New Hampshire Survey Team arrive in August to perform an infection control survey, which we were again deficiency free. We shared our policies, procedures, and lessons learned with the National Association of Directors of Nursing (NADONA).
Each week we participate in a state-wide Zoom meeting with Dr. Chan and Dr. Talbot from our State Epidemiology Team, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services (DPHS), the New Hampshire Health Care Association (NHHCA), and hundreds of administrative, medical, and nursing providers from facilities throughout New Hampshire.
We are so proud of our wonderful employees at Fairview Senior Living for working diligently to keep our campus COVID-free. We know how difficult this has been for our families, extended families, and providers, and on behalf of our entire team, we want to thank you for your patience, understanding, and support during this time. It has been a tough year, and our hearts go out to all who have been affected by this terrible virus. We will get through this together, and we stand prepared to do whatever it takes to protect our Fairview family.
Stephan H. Pazulski
CEO, Fairview Senior Living